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In the long history of tobacco, here in the U.S. the cigar can claim a colorful story all its own. Since the dawn of civilization, tobacco has been a poultice for healing wounds and a medicinal ingredient. It’s been used for enjoyment and relaxation, and for ceremonial occasions. But the cigar stands alone as a symbol of style, with a masculine cachet, although that is changing. More women are joining the ranks of cigar fans, especially with the advent of the electronic cigar, or e-cigar.
In the late 1800s, the image of cigar style was one of men dressed in dark suits and ties with bowler hats on their heads. Men retired to the smoking room after dinner to drink brandy and light up cigars. Cigars were considered a sign of class and sophistication.
Cigars became popular with the working classes in the U.S. as more people moved to industrial centers. German immigrants brought the cigar-making trade to America in the early 1900s, and workers in the cities started smoking cigars. Detroit became a cigar-manufacturing hub, with locally grown tobacco, waterway shipping, and a big market.
Detroit’s run as a cigar-manufacturing center ended when Prohibition became law with the adoption of the 19th Amendment in 1920. Saloons and bars shut down. The wine industry in the countryside dried up. Suddenly, there was nowhere for people to gather and enjoy a cigar and a drink.
The cigar-making industry and market in the U.S. has had its highs and lows since the 1920s. Today, cigars are back in a big way. Cigars and spirits are enjoyed at every level of society, in venues ranging from exclusive cigar and spirits clubs to neighborhood cigar and e-cigar parlors and bars. From the days of black bowler hats and men-only cigar rooms to e-cigar vaping millenials, cigars have never lost their style.