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Brief History of Cigars

A Brief History of Cigars: How Did It All Start?

Cigars have been a popular symbol of luxury, sophistication, and celebration for centuries. In 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded an estimated 8.6 million adults aged 18 and older smoking cigars. 

Tobacco has always been considered a medicinal plant for common illnesses until it became a popular commodity for trade. Eventually, the art of cigar making emerged and it gave cigars a fascinating tale of culture, tradition, and innovation. Now, cigars are a beloved pastime for enthusiasts all over the world, and its legacy will live on until the end of time.

Let’s explore the origins of cigars and how they evolved over time.

How Cigars Started

The word cigar is derived from the Spanish word, cigarro (or sicar in Mayan culture) which means, “to smoke rolled tobacco leaves.”

Historians generally believed that the indigenous people of the Americas were the first people to smoke tobacco in various forms, like pipes, cigars, and even chewables. The Mayans and the Aztecs smoked tobacco for medicinal and religious purposes, and then Christopher Columbus met these tribes in 1492 and brought it to Europe. Jean Nicot, who was then the French Ambassador to Portugal, brought tobacco smoking to France, and the word “nicotine” came to be.

Sometime in the 16th Century, Spain emerged as a major player in the tobacco trade. Spanish merchants brought tobacco from the New World to Europe, where it was eventually cultivated in places like Spain, Portugal, and Italy. It was during this time that the cigar as we know it today began to take shape. Spanish farmers started growing tobacco in large quantities, and cigar production became a profitable business.

By the 19th Century, cigar production became an industry, thanks to the rise of the Cuban tobacco industry. Cuba had ideal growing conditions for tobacco, and it quickly became the primary supplier of tobacco for the cigar industry. 

How Cigars Started

Cuban cigars gained worldwide popularity and demand for the product reached soaring heights. People from all walks of life were smoking cigars, from common laborers to wealthy businessmen. Even royalty were hooked on cigars. King Edward VII of England was known for his love of smoking. As demand grew, Cuban farmers resorted to slavery to supply a cheap and efficient workforce. This was met with serious backlash, and the Cuban tobacco industry eventually declined.

While all of this is happening, cigar production has also begun in the United States. Tampa, Florida was one of the cigar hotspots in the United States, where many Cuban cigar makers migrated. An important highlight in the history of the American cigar industry was the introduction of the cigar-rolling machine, which made the cigar-making process faster and more efficient. It quickly became a staple of the American cigar industry.

Eventually, cigarettes were introduced and quickly became popular during the First and Second World War. Tobacco companies made more cigarettes than cigars to send to soldiers on the front lines, creating patrons in the process. However, cigars earned a reputation among those in high society and production was maintained. 

In 1896, Cremo Cigars was born and became the most successful cigar of the 20th Century in the United States. The beloved brand established several cigar factories that sustained cigar popularity among a niche market and attained huge sales across the country. 

The Long and Complex History of Cigars

The history of cigars is shaped by a multitude of cultural, social, and economic factors. From its beginnings in pre-Columbian times to its rise and fall in the Cuban tobacco industry, the cigar has played an important role in many different cultures. While its popularity has fluctuated over time, it garnered patronage from cigar enthusiasts all over the world. 

Get a Cigar Subscription with Cremo Cigars

Cremo Cigars is proud to have established a name in the history of the American cigar industry. History is incorporated in every roll of our cigars and our tradition continues as we revive the brand with our Premium Cigars. 

Sign up for a cigar subscription or contact us to learn more about our historic cigars.

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