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A cigarillo (Spanish from "cigarro" + "illo" diminutive, pronounced [θiɣaˈɾiʎo]) is a short, narrow cigar. Unlike cigarettes, cigarillos are wrapped in tobacco leaves or brown tobacco-based paper. Cigarillos are smaller than regular cigars but larger than cigarettes, thus similar in size and composition to small panatela sized cigars, cheroots and traditional blunts. Cigarillos are usually made without filters, and are meant to be smoked like a cigar and not inhaled (except those made in this form only for specific tax issues).
Generally, a cigarillo contains about 3 grams of tobacco, the length varies from 3 to 4 in. (7 - 10 cm) and the diameter is about 5 to 9 mm, usually 8 mm. Comparatively, a cigarette contains less than 1 gram of tobacco and is less than 5" in length and 10 mm in diameter.
Most cigarillos are machine-made, which is cheaper than hand-rolling. It is unusual to store them in humidors, partly because they are smoked in large quantities and so have a short shelf-life.
Alternative names for cigarillos include small cigars, little cigars and miniatures. Some brands mark cigarillos as mini or club cigars. Cigarillos are also known in Europe as a seven minute cigar because they can be smoked in a few minutes, and may gain popularity for the speed of their consumption.
Cheap cigarillos are typically marketed as a brand rather than with the term cigarillo. In the United Kingdom common consumer brands include Henri Wintermans Café Crème and Hamlets and in rest of Europe, Dannemann Moods, Candlelight, Agio Panters and Mehari's, Clubmaster and Handesgold are popular. In the United States they include Al Capone, Black & Mild, Backwoods, Dutch Masters, Garcia Y Vega, Game, Splitarillos, Good Times, Swisher Sweets and Phillies. Some famous cigar brands, such as Cohiba or Davidoff, also make cigarillos - Cohiba Mini and Davidoff Club Cigarillos, for example.
In the United States, cigarillos (and cigars) were taxed at a lower rate than cigarettes. The federal tax on cigarettes was 50 cents a pack whereas cigarillos were 5 cents per pack of 20. Large cigars had a federal tax of 5 cents maximum per cigar.[when?] The difference in tax rates was credited for a 240% increase in the popularity of cigarillos over ten years. In February 2009 an increase from 5 cents to 40 cents per pack as part of the SCHIP expansion bill set a tax rate similar to that for cigarettes.
In Spanish-speaking countries, as well as in the Philippines, "cigarrillo" is a cigarette. In the Philippines, it is often spelt sigarílyo. Short, narrow cigars are referred to instead as little cigars. Cigarillos also can be used for smoking cannabis. The cannabis is hand wrapped into the whole leaf paper. In the United States, cheroot and blunt (cigar) is very similar to cigarillo, and "blunts" are rolled with cigarillos instead of regular cigars by many.
As with other tobacco products, cigarillos are a health risk to those who smoke them. In Brazil, Uruguay, Europe, Canada and Australia they are subject to the same laws which require manufacturers to place a health warning on a portion of each package.
Like cigars, cigarillos are not meant to be inhaled. As a result of this, it is often assumed that cigarillos are a healthier alternative to cigarettes, but health authorities around the world still warn smokers of the risk they pose due to smoke being in the mouth.