How Long do Cigars Last? | Boveda

Man smoking a lit cigar with an old fashioned drink.

The more time you spend in cigar lounges, the more cigar conversations you’ll be drawn into. Everyone will have an opinion, so school yourself on cigar facts. Boveda’s tobacco blogs divide truth from old wives’ tales on hot cigar topics like “Can you rehydrate dry cigars?” “What’s the worst (and) best time to visit a cigar shop?” “Is there a right way to hold a cigar?” Today, let’s cover “How long do cigars last in (and out) of a humidor? 

The answer is slipperier than you might think. Are you asking, “How long do cigars last in a humidor?” or “How long do sticks last in their original packaging—plastic wrappers, boxes, and tubes?” Keep reading to learn the science of tobacco degradation and the importance using 2-way humidity control in a quality humidor to preserve premium cigars for the long haul and short term.

Fun with Cigar Science—Tobacco Degradation

Let’s say you saved some celebratory cigars in a drawer with plans to revisit them on your anniversary. Now the tobacco is dry, tastes stale, and burns quicker than a pile of sticks on Guy Fawkes Night.

But cigar enthusiasts age smokes for years, you think. So how long can you keep cigars on hand before they go bad? And how long do smokes last without a humidor?

We could give you a bare-bones answer like “years” or “days,” but without explaining the underlying science, it would be a case of rule without reason.

Cigars degrade when they aren’t stored at the right humidity in the right environment.

Thankfully, the science isn’t too complex. Cigars degrade when they aren’t stored in the right environment. What happens when good cigars go bad is an interplay of physical and chemical reactions.

What Happens When Cigars Dry Out?

At low humidity, cigars desiccate. When cigars dry out, the essential oils that produce flavor and aroma evaporate. The tobacco’s natural sugars also degrade. This combined loss of sugars and oils destroy a cigar’s natural bouquet.

What Happens When Cigars Are Too Damp?

Too much moisture can also destroy premium cigars. Cigars get moldy. At high humidity, your cigar fosters an ideal environment for mold growth. These opportunistic fungi subsist on the present water content and tobacco sugars, multiplying through innumerable spores and rendering your stogie unsmokable.

What’s the Right Way to Store Cigars?

To keep your cigar’s essentials oils and sugars intact, you need to store them correctly:

  • Steady relative humidity (RH) between 65% and 75% (Boveda maintains the right RH for cigars automatically for you.)
  • Around 70°F/21°C (Don’t store cigars in the fridge or freezer!)
  • Away from the catalyzing effects of oxidation (Protect cigars an airtight tupperdor, seasoned humidor, or humidor bag.)
  • Out of direct sunlight (Rethink a glass-topped humidor, which let’s light in and leaks moisture like a sieve.)

Store cigars right and the aromatic compounds and textural complexities of your smokes will persist. Some experts maintain that aging a cigar in these ideal conditions round out and mellow the flavors, as the cigars oils meld and shed minute impurities.

How Long Do Cigars Last in Their Original Box, Wrapper, or Tube?

Some occasional smokers might think storing cigars in their original packaging is enough to keep tobacco from degrading.

How long do sticks last in a box?

Factory boxes do provide a little protection for cigars (mostly in transit, and mainly from cigar beetles). However, a cigar box’s primary function is branding. It is flashy and attractive, featuring alluring illustrations of regal figures, swaying palm trees, and idealized tobacco leaves. The natural wood box itself signals that these are bespoke sticks, not flavored sweets you get at gas stations.

The problem is, the box looks enough like a humidor that novice cigar smokers assume it’s adequate for storage. It’s not. It doesn’t have a proper seal, humidity source, or walls thick enough to retain present humidity. In their original box without humidity control, cigars will stay at their peak for a few days—two weeks tops, if you’re lucky.

How long do cigars last in cellophane and plastic tubes?

The same goes for sticks in tubes and cellophane wrappers. Without proper storage, they’ll last longer than naked cigars—one or two days, max. You need to control a cigar’s humidity if you want to preserve a cigar’s taste and condition.

An open box of cigars with each individual cigar in plastic wrapping.

How to Make Cigars Last—Boveda Creates Ideal Conditions

As mentioned in the “science” spiel, the sugars and essential oils in cigars require precise, consistent humidity to remain intact. But how long will cigars keep? Months? Years?

Some reputable cigar sources will tell you that a cigar will last indefinitely if stored with Boveda packs in an airtight humidor, tupperdor, or humidor bag. As mentioned, some cigar lovers prefer their stogies with a bit of maturation, often saving prized cigars for years.

Other experts cap their recommendation at five years—as long as the smokes are properly stored. Your cigars will last as long as you want them to last if you store them with Boveda 2-way humidity control packs. Just slip them in with your cigars and replace the packs every three months. Done.

Should You Put a Whole Cigar Box in a Humidor?

You can keep your cigars in their original box as long as you store it with Boveda in a humidor, tupperdor, or cooler. (Find out how to create your own cigar storage here: What Is a Cigar Humidor & How Does a Humidor Work?)

For occasional cigar lovers out there, if you can’t afford a quality humidor, you aren’t out of luck. Boveda Humidor Bags are an inexpensive foray into cigar collecting. They come preloaded with a 69% RH Boveda, which preserves your cigars way, way longer than the package they came in.

Boveda large humidor bag with two boxes of cigars and two loose cigars inside, along side a Boveda 69% RH size 60.
A Boveda Humidor Bag is an affordable, safe way to age cigars, store overflow sticks, and shop ahead for celebratory smokes. Shown: Large Humidor Bag. (Sorry, cigars aren’t include.)