A cigarillo (Spanish for "little cigar", pronounced "see-gah-ree-yoh") is a short, narrow cigar. Unlike cigarettes, cigarillos are wrapped not in paper but in whole-leaf tobacco. Cigarillos can be found for purchase alone or in packs, and are sometimes made without filters. Unlike a cigarette, they are not meant to be inhaled but rather smoked like a cigar.
Generally, a cigarillo contains about 3 grams of tobacco, the length varies from 3 to 4 in. and the diameter is about 5 to 8 mm. Comparatively, a cigarette contains less than 1 gram of tobacco and is less than 5" in length and 10 mm in diameter.
Cigarrillos are often machine made. This allows the price to be lower than if they were hand made. They are not produced in as large a quantity as cigarettes but cigarillos are often seen by passionate cigar smokers as a lower quality product. As cigarrillos are often smoked in quantities similar to cigarettes (between 5 and 10 per day), storage of them in humidors is not usually necessary.
Cigarrillos are also known in Europe as a 'Seven Minute Cigar'. This due to the fact that they can be smoked in seven minutes and are often seen as an alternative not only to cigarettes but also where someone does not have enough time to smoke a full cigar.
To improve their image, cigarrillos can often be found in ornamentally designed tins. Manufacturers explain this offers more protection for the product against crushing but it also gives a better image and allows better targeted advertising to people who are conscious of other people seeing what they are smoking.
In the United States popular consumer brands include Swisher Sweets, Black and Mild, White Owl, Optimo, and Winchester, while in the United Kingdom they include Hamlets and Café Crème. Inexpensive cigarillos are often identified using a brand name rather than the term cigarillo.
As cigarillos are not meant to be inhaled, they are seen as a healthier alternative to cigarettes. Health authorities around the world still warn smokers of the risk they pose due to smoke being in the mouth.