In its simpler form (sometimes called cigarette tin) it is an approximately cigarette-length flat metal box opening flatwise symmetrically on hinges into two halves, each storing one row of cigarettes, often held in place by a spring or an elastic strap. Typical cigarette tins in the United States of the 1920s–1930s stored 50 cigarettes, hence their name "flat fifties" at the time.
Some cigarette cases come with additional features, such as a built-in lighter. Other typical versions are sturdy cases to store standard cigarette packs. However there are quite a few patents for advanced cigarette cases,  including a cigarette case with mobile phone.
Within smoking culture, cigarette cases may be fashionable accessories. As such, they may be made of precious metals, adorned with artistic engravings, monograms and jewels. Peter Carl Fabergé, while most famous for his Fabergé eggs, also manufactured exquisite cases of gold and gems for the family of the Tsar, some of which, (e.g. those owned by Danielle Steel) are reportedly worth up to $25,000 and appreciating. Alternatively, they may be leather-covered. Cigarette cases are also collectible items.
In 2003 the European Union witnessed a surge of cigarette case sales, attributable to the introduction of prominent black-bordered warning labels on cigarette packs, e.g., "Smokers Die Younger", etc., by an EU directive in January 2003. Cigarette cases were a way to avoid the invasive labels (another way being various satirical stickers, such as "You could be hit by a bus tomorrow").
The United States Census Bureau, for the purposes of industry statistics, includes manufacturing or adorning of cigarette cases into the category NAICS 339914 "Costume jewelry and novelty manufacturing".
Due to their compactness, conveniently fitting in a pocket, cigarette cases are often used to store or conceal small items.
In popular culture
- In some of the James Bond films, Bond is issued gadgets which are concealed in cigarette cases.
- In the film Black Swan, Lily uses a cigarette case.
- In the film Constantine, John Constantine uses a cigarette case.
- Francisco Scaramanga, the antagonist in the 1974 film The Man with the Golden Gun, assembles his signature weapon the Golden Gun from a cigarette lighter, a pen and a cigarette case.
- The Team Fortress 2 spy class is equipped with a disguise kit hidden inside his cigarette case, which he can use to disguise himself as an enemy.
- In Boardwalk Empire the main character Nucky Thompson can often be seen with a cigarette case.
- In Chinatown, the protagonist, J.J. Gittes, carries around a cigarette case.
- In the film Titanic, the valet, Mr. Lovejoy, uses a cigarette case.
- In Community (TV series) the character Troy Barnes can be seen storing candy cigarettes in a cigarette case.
- In the Hindi film Don, Jasjit, one of the main protagonists, is implicated in an armoured van robbery after he drops his ornate custom cigarette case in the van.
- In the television series House of Cards, the Underwoods use a cigarette case.
- Cigar box
- Cigar case
- Cigarette humidor
- TKB-506 (a Soviet noiseless pistol disguised as a cigarette case)
- "Campus Publicity", January 28, 1935, Time
- Cigarette case equipped with disposable ash receptacle
- Sanitary cigarette case
- A mobile phone with cigarette case
- "Dedications on Silver Cigarette Boxes, an article of Association of Silver Collectors
- "Smoking Related Collectables", originally published in the UK monthly magazine What It's Worth?)
- Vickie L. Bane, Lorenzo Benet (1995) "The Lives of Danielle Steel: The Unauthorized Biography of America's #1 Best-Selling Author" ISBN 0-312-95575-8 p. 340
- Day, Elizabeth (15 Oct 2003). "Film star glamour of cigarette cases hides truth for smokers". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-01-14.
- NAICS 339914