The cigar woman is not someone who just appeared during a fem launch, nor is she someone who pretends to be someone she is not. The make up of women in general, takes on many faces and adds to their uniqueness.
The history of "Women and Cigars" dates as far back (according to my research) as the ancient Mayans. But for our purposes here, I will focus on a more recent look at what makes us (I'm now identified as a "Cigar Aficionada") tick???
The history of women and cigars, I discover, like most events in history concerning the average woman at the turn of the century, smoking tobacco in public was totally taboo. Then came the Roaring Twenties. Skirts got shorter. American women grew more daring. They demanded and won the right to vote, and they gradually asserted their right to enjoy tobacco.
And it took a woman, of course, to get the fledgling American cigar-making industry rolling.
Rewind to 1801 and briefly to the inception of manufacturing cigars in America.
The wife of a Connecticut farmer named Prout took exception to her husband’s business practices. Farmer Prout used to ship his tobacco to the West Indies where it was rolled into cigars, repacked onto ships, and hauled back North hundreds of miles for resale in Connecticut. Ms. Prout knew an opportunity when she saw it. To save all that shipping and hauling, she reportedly hired a group of neighborhood women who got together and began rolling the cigars themselves. Her business savvy paid off, and by 1870, Connecticut had 235 cigar factories.
But what I found interesting was the historian, Perucho Sanchez, describing his experiences years ago in the cigar factories of Florida. Many women cigar rollers, he recalled, preferred cigars to cigarettes. But in order to smoke in peace, they would "take the cigars and cut them up. Then they would re-roll the tobacco in cigarette paper" and hold it all together with a hairpin. I thought this was typical behavior, and although a woman contributed to the historical inception of the cigar industry in Connecticut, by the time Florida made its mark, Ms. Prout's ingenuity, had not influenced attitudes toward the women cigar rollers further south.
So let's fast forward through the early years.
The corporate world of advertising and big tobacco realized they were sitting on a gold mine, and launched campaigns targeting the female smoker and cigarettes. Smoking became an acceptable practice among women, and with the advent of television in the 1960s, advertisers once again realized the profitable connection between women and cigars. But still, even with the influence of big tobacco, and its partners in crime, the advertisers and corporate America, cigar women still lagged behind the cultural and diversely acceptable South America.
"I realize that seeing a woman with a cigar is not an entirely 'natural' thing for some Americans, but for many Cuban women, it's common."
Traditionally, Latin women cigar smokers have fared better than their American counterparts and that appears to hold true today as well. Latin cultures seem to be more accepting of women cigar smokers and for many Cuban women, it's common. Women openly smoke cigars in the Dominican Republic and Cigar smoking by women in Spain today is as much a part of the culture as bullfighting or flamenco dancing.