The numbers like "100's" and "120's" refer to the length of
the tobacco rod in millimeters.
What is the difference between menthol and... whatever they call non-menthol cigarettes?
The other kind of cigarettes are called 'non-menthol' or regular. The difference is menthol cigarettes have a major non-tobacco additive that make them minty tasting. Very few people enjoy switching from one type to the other... but I do.
Menthol, and Regular... is there anything else?
You bet there is! The next major 'flavor' is Clove. You know cloves... the spice they put on hams - well, turns out they can be mixed with tobacco too! Some brands are extremely strong. Djarium Black is not something one should smoke while driving... or walking. Find a nice place to sit down first. Seriously, you'll thank me.
Menthol, Regular, and Clove... I got it.
Wait there are tons more! Most are self-explanatory; cherry, chocolate, orange mint, mango, et al. One good one worth explaining is Perique. The only brand I know that uses this is American Spirit. It has a quite different taste that I describe as "vaguely cucumber-y... in a good way".
Does filter/non-filter make a difference?
Oh MY Yes! Non-filter cigarettes come in short stubby packs, and don't have a filter end. You can light either end - I choose the end that looks most cohesive to stick in my mouth. Non-filter cigarettes are a completely different smoking experience. They are very easy to inhale from (no resistance from a filter). It is almost as easy as breathing through a straw. The amount of actual smoke you get is much higher (none is absorbed by the filter). If you are just starting - DO NOT start on non-filter cigarettes. Try one after you get a few packs down. Non-filters have tar and nicotine levels 30-45% higher than their filter counterparts.
What about Lights, Mediums, Ultra Lights, and all that?
I'm not sure exactly how lower tar and nicotine levels are produced, but I suspect it has to do with the filter. Lights typically have 50-70% the level of nicoine, Ultras have about 30%.
Why would I want Lights? Aren't I just getting less smokey goodness?
Some people find "full flavored" to be too harsh. Other people think they are doing something 'good' for themselves. Most of the time people will just smoke more Lights, or inhale deeper to get the nicotine levels they want. Buying lights is like getting a Big Mac with a Diet Coke. If you like the taste of Diet Coke; Good for you! But the meal is still fattening.
Brand Reviews - By Me
Menthol and regular versions are available. This is easily the best cigarette produced... if you can find it. Rare is to cigarettes what Stradivarius is to cellos. These make everything else look bad. If you can get a pack; get a pack. They come in a metal tin, and are noticably more expensive than 'common' cigarettes.
A semi-new cigarette with a nice punch. A bit harsher than Newport, but with a better smoke rush. You feel these.
It has a recessed filter! Why? I don't know... so your tongue never touches the cotton filter? So it just has less filter? Cheaper to produce? I just don't know. These are quite good - and I like the form factor of the recessed filter.
Regular and menthol, full flavor and light, this is a solid brand of smokes. Recommended for anyone.
Kamel Red/Kamel Red Light
This is a good and readily available line. Nothing spectacular, but not bad in the least.
These are amazing. Why? Because they're legal. If you're not used to smoking - I suggest you get a pack just to try them out. You may get dizzy, so look out. These are very tightly packed and can burn for 20+ minutes. I've never seen anyone smoke one of these in under 15 minutes and not get ill.
These are pleasant menthol-only cigarettes. They taste differnet from each other, but neither is better or worse. I personally prefer the Newport.
Lucky Strike - no filter
They're Toasted! I got a pack of these while on a WWII kick.
At first the toasting bugged me. Why would they make a cigarette deliberately taste like it has been smoked before? By the end of the pack I was wondering "Why doesn't EVERYONE toast tobacco first!?". Tastey. Harsh. Toasted.
Camel's original line of cigarettes. They get the job done. Straightforward flavor.
Camel Turkish Gold/Jade
Camel's newer line of regular (Gold) and menthol (Jade). I can't say these are superior to Camel's main line, but I can't say they're worse. Also in this line is "Turkish Royale" which I am still undecided on.
This is a super premium import. The box is nice, and it is the best paper I've seen. The contents are fairly pedestrian, though. This one comes in several varieties... Blue, Red, Green... I forget what the colours mean.
Camel Exotic Flavors
If they sound good to you - they probably will be. Crema, Mandarin mint, Twist, Dark mint... These can be an excellent change of pace. As of this writing Mandarin Mint is my primary brand.
I've tried most all of these (and believe me, there are a lot of variants). I've liked - actually liked - none of them. I don't understand how they got to be as popular as they are.
Salem Black Label/Salem Green Label
Almost worse than no cigarettes at all, the "new" Salem Green Label gave me a nasty sore throat. I got them because they were on sale, and the box was pretty.
This is one of the few brands to offer a 120mm version. That is about all it has going for it. Not recommended.
These have been around for a while, and they're not terrible. How's that for a glowing review?
These are terrible terrible cigarettes. If you want to try smoking, but make sure it is a bad experience buy one of these. The BEST thing I can say about them is that they have an ammonium taste to them. Like ammonium? You're in luck!
Price will not guarantee quality on the high end, but it DOES guarantee crap on the low end. Please - in the name of all that is good and holy in your world - do NOT buy super discount cigarettes.