Female Cigar Smokers – A Growing Trend

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Cigar smoking has long been associated with men, but over the past couple of decades there has been a significant rise in the number of women enjoying cigars. While men still make up the majority of cigar smokers, the gender gap is narrowing as cigars gain popularity among women. This article will explore the rising trend of female cigar aficionados in America and examine why more women are lighting up.

The Numbers

According to data from Statista, in 2021 there were approximately 5.75 million female cigar smokers aged 12 years and older in the United States. This represents a whopping 315% increase from the estimated 1.4 million female cigar smokers in that demographic in 2000. So in just over two decades, the number of women smoking cigars has more than quadrupled.

The growth is also evident when looking at female cigar smokers as a percentage of total cigar smokers. Women made up just 7.7% of cigar smokers in 2000, but by 2021 that percentage had jumped to 17.3%. So while men still account for the vast majority of cigar usage in America, the gender ratio is shifting.

It’s clear that cigar smoking among women is on the rise, but why is this happening? Let’s explore some of the driving factors behind this growing trend.

Reasons for the Trend

There are several cultural and industry changes that help explain the increasing numbers of women enjoying cigars:

  • Greater gender equality – As society moves toward greater equality between the sexes, long-standing gender norms around smoking cigars have eroded. Cigars are now seen as acceptable for women.
  • Targeted marketing – Cigar brands and publications like Cigar Aficionado now recognize women as a growing market. More cigar lounges cater to women as well.
  • Pop culture influence – Female celebrities like Rihanna and Lady Gaga have helped give cigars a cool, feminist edge that appeals to modern women.
  • Flavored cigars – Cigar makers are producing more flavored cigars in bourbon, vodka, and fruit flavors that draw in female smokers.
  • Networking opportunities – Cigar smoking events have emerged as networking spaces for women in business and other professions.
  • Shared hobby with partners – Some women start smoking cigars to share a hobby with their husbands or boyfriends.
  • Stress relief and “me time” – Women today say cigars represent a relaxing escape from daily stresses. Smoking cigars provides “me time.”

So from both industry and cultural perspectives, the groundwork is there for the rise in female cigar aficionados. But who exactly are these women enjoying stogies?

The Female Cigar Smoker

She comes from all walks of life – young and old, professionals, creatives, and more. But there are a few common traits of the modern female cigar smoker:

  • Affluent – Cigars are still an expensive hobby. The typical female cigar smoker has an above average income.
  • Influential – She’s often in a leadership business or creative role. Cigars provide networking and deal-making opportunities.
  • Jet-setter – Female cigar smokers are well-traveled and frequent cigar lounges and events around the world while on the go.
  • Luxury buyer – She enjoys the finer things in life – nice clothes, sports cars, upscale alcohol. Cigars fit her luxury lifestyle.
  • Hedonist – She sees cigars as one of life’s pleasures to indulge in. She balances luxury with philanthropy and family.
  • Risk taker – She’s bold and confident enough to defy old stigmas against women smoking cigars. She’s daring and adventurous.

So while coming from diverse backgrounds, the typical female cigar smoker shares some common personality traits and passions. And tobacco companies are taking notice and directly marketing to her.

Catering to Female Aficionados

Cigar makers are keen to cash in on the rise of women enjoying cigars. Many top brands now offer products specifically for women:

  • Flavored cigars – Sweet tip cigars offer flavors like rum, honey, fruit, and chocolate. Brands like Drew Estate, Macanudo, and Avanti cater to women with their infused smokes.
  • Smaller sizes – Petit corona and other short, narrow cigars are easy for women to smoke. Arturo Fuente’s Chateau series is popular with women.
  • Mild blends – Light and medium bodied cigars are smoother for new smokers. Romeo y Julieta’s 1875 line features a Connecticut Shade wrapper perfect for women.
  • Pretty packaging – Colorful, feminine bands and boxes appeal to women. Packaging from La Palina, A. Flores, and Punch brands draw in female buyers.
  • Cigar accessories – Special cutters, lighters, holders, and purses give women stylish ways to carry cigars.
  • Cigar events – Cigar festivals and hotel events like the Big Smoke cater more and more to women aficionados.

So it’s clear that tobacco companies see women as a top emerging market and are tailoring products and marketing toward female consumers. And it seems to be working looking at the rising sales.

Trends Among Female Cigar Smokers

Within the booming market of women cigar smokers, there are some interesting trends emerging:

  • Millennials at the forefront – Young professional women under 35 are a top segment driving growth. Cigars represent luxury and status.
  • Smoking at home – While some enjoy the cigar lounge, many women prefer to smoke cigars at home in a relaxing environment.
  • Pairing with drinks – Women enjoy matching cigars with top-shelf spirits like bourbon, cognac, rum, and Champagne.
  • Virtual herfs – Female smoking groups are connecting online to host livestreamed “herfs” or cigar smoking sessions.
  • Health concerns – While enjoying cigars, women still express greater concern about potential health risks. Many favor moderate smoking.
  • Discerning tastes – Female smokers tend to be selective in preferred cigar profiles and strengths. They favor flavor complexity over strength.
  • Buying online/apps – For convenience, many women utilize e-commerce sites and apps like JR Cigar, Famous Smoke Shop, and Thompson Cigar.
  • Higher in West/South – Trends show more women smoking in Western and Southern U.S. states compared to other regions.

So the rise in U.S. women enjoying cigars shows no signs of slowing, but it does show shifts in how and where women smoke. Catering to women will be key for the cigar industry going forward.

Why Do Women Smoke Cigars?

What is driving women to take up cigars? Here are some of the top motivating factors:

  • Relaxation – The ritual of slowing down and enjoying a cigar appeals as relaxation from stressful lives.
  • Luxury – Cigars represent an affordable luxury and indulgence for self-care. Women view cigars as a reward.
  • Freedom – Women now feel empowered to enter what was a “boys club” and enjoy cigars freely.
  • Networking – Building business contacts while bantering over cigars still appeals, now even for women.
  • Socializing – Friendly cigar lounges allow female bonding opportunities. Virtual communities exist too.
  • Flavor journey – Women enjoy exploring the complex tasting notes and nuances that fine cigars offer.
  • Special occasions – Cigars make birthdays, promotions, girls trips more celebratory.
  • Spirit pairing – Cigar smoking pairs nicely with women’s growing interest in whiskey and other spirits.
  • Intrigue – The rich culture, history, and lore around premium cigars holds great fascination for women.

So cigars clearly offer relaxation, indulgence, social bonding, and sensory exploration that appeal to women, allowing them to participate in a formerly male-dominated pursuit.

The Future of Female Cigar Smokers

The numbers confirm women are choosing to light up in growing numbers, so what does the future hold for this trend?

  • Continued growth – Surveys suggest 10% of women are open to trying cigars. That signals plenty of potential for further expansion in the female cigar market.
  • Targeted product innovation – Expect new products like flavored cigars and smaller vitolas to cater more toward women and cigars suited for new female smokers.
  • Higher industry marketing budgets directed at women – Big tobacco will likely invest more in marketing toward female consumers across print, digital, and live events.
  • More lounges and clubs for women – Spaces like drawing rooms and salons will give women friendly, modern environments to enjoy cigars.
  • Customized experiences – Look for high-end lounges and clubs offering curated evenings for women focused on Pairing cigars with spirits, food, and entertainment.
  • Changing perceptions – The image of the cigar smoker as older, elitist men will phase out as more younger, professional women embrace cigars.
  • Continued strong demand – Cigars’ appeal as an affordable luxury will likely grow among women seeking relaxation and indulgence.

The consensus among industry experts is that the rise in female cigar smoking still likely has a long runway for continued growth and further normalization in society. While health concerns remain, cigars clearly attract women by offering an enjoyable sensory experience and ritual for self-care. The shift toward gender-neutral marketing and products shows cigars represent a luxury that women feel increasingly empowered to enjoy as equals.