In recent years, the number of women smoking cigars has been on the rise. According to anecdotal reports from cigar manufacturers and retailers, it appears that women are smoking cigars in significantly larger quantities than before. Market research conducted in the late 1980s determined that women accounted for one-tenth of one percent of the total cigarette market in the United States. However, Norman Sharp, president of the United States Tobacco Association, has noted that this figure has changed drastically in the eight years since this study was conducted.
Current cigarette consumption is higher among men than among women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 2 percent of women in the United States say they smoke cigars. This is a stark contrast to the 1980s, when Cigar Aficionado reported that women represented just one-tenth of one percent of the total United States cigar market. Not only are more women smoking cigars, but they are also having successful careers in almost every aspect of today's cigar market. Women like Laurel are really changing the tobacco industry by opening its doors to them and allowing them to dominate it. Julie Ross, co-founder of the George Sand Society of Santa Monica, a smoking club that welcomes both men and women (there is now a chapter in Manhattan), has been smoking cigars for 10 years.
Far from alienating men, smoking cigars is a ritual that can unite women with each other and with the men in their lives. Female cigar smoking may have a common origin in Aztec society, but it developed differently in the United States than it did in Latin America. The George Sand Society encourages both men and women to try, explore and understand premium cigars. In the past, it was not only acceptable for women to smoke cigars, but doctors even prescribed hand-rolled cigars and tobacco pipes to their female patients. Collatos, a ceramic artist from Boston (she recently designed an ashtray for a friend's tobacco shop), smokes two to three cigars a day and wears an elegant gold cigar cutter inherited from her grandfather around her neck.
Reports also indicate that over the past year, women have been buying cigars in greater numbers and with more knowledge and authority. Established cigar smoking was obtained from three derivative variables that described respondents who had ever smoked some type of tobacco product quite regularly and who currently smoked such products every day or a few days a week. Cigars were also accessories for women who wanted to express their sexuality in public: gypsies, actresses and prostitutes. Favelli is the owner of the Key West Havana Cigar Company and remembers hearing stories about his great-grandmother enjoying her cigarette at family reunions. It is clear that cigar smoking among women is on the rise. Women are no longer content to be passive observers in the cigar industry; they are actively participating in it and making their presence felt.
With more knowledge and authority than ever before, female cigar smokers are changing the face of the tobacco industry.