Cigar History of USA: Prohibition, Boom, Regulation

Cigar History of USA: Prohibition, Boom, Regulation

The history of cigars in the United States is fascinating and complex, marked by periods of Prohibition, boom, and regulation. The Prohibition Era, which began in 1920, had a significant impact on the cigar industry as it banned the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages, which included cigars. This forced many cigar manufacturers to close their doors, and those that survived had to adapt to the changing market by producing non-alcoholic cigars.

The cigar industry experienced a resurgence in the 1990s during what is known as the Cigar Boom. This period saw a surge in the popularity of cigars, with sales increasing dramatically. The boom was partly fueled by the introduction of premium cigars, which were more expensive and of higher quality than traditional cigars. However, the boom eventually ended, and the industry experienced a decline in sales.

Today, the cigar industry is subject to regulation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In 2016, the FDA extended its authority to all tobacco products, including cigars. This regulation has significantly impacted the industry, as manufacturers must now comply with new rules regarding the labeling and marketing of their products. Despite these challenges, the cigar industry remains integral to American culture and history.


During the early 20th century, the United States experienced a period of Prohibition from 1920 to 1933. The 18th Amendment to the US Constitution banned the manufacture, transportation, and sale of intoxicating liquors, including beer, wine, and spirits. This was a significant time in the history of cigars in the United States, as the cigar industry was affected by the ban on alcohol.

The cigar industry had previously relied heavily on selling cigars with alcohol, particularly in bars and saloons. With the Prohibition of alcohol, the demand for cigars decreased significantly, and many cigar manufacturers struggled to stay in business. However, some cigar manufacturers were able to adapt and began to market their products as a substitute for alcohol, emphasizing the social and relaxing aspects of smoking cigars.

Despite the efforts of some cigar manufacturers to adapt to the new laws, the Prohibition of alcohol ultimately hurt the cigar industry. The ban on alcohol led to the rise of organized crime, as individuals sought to profit from the illegal sale and distribution of alcohol. This criminal activity also extended to the unlawful sale and distribution of cigars, further damaging the industry.

Prohibition was repealed in 1933 by ratifying the 21st Amendment to the US Constitution. The repeal of Prohibition led to a resurgence in the cigar industry, as people once again began to enjoy cigars in conjunction with alcohol. However, the impact of Prohibition on the cigar industry was significant and cannot be overlooked.


The Cigar Boom is the name given to the resurgence of cigar consumption in the United States during the mid-1990s. In 1992, imports and sales of premium cigars began to rise dramatically, and manufacturers struggled to keep up with demand, leading to industry-wide shortages of raw materials and finished products.

Many credit the resurgence to Cigar Aficionado magazine’s appearance, which coincides with a robust economic recovery that emphasized luxury goods. Cigar sales rose quickly, creating a shortage among some favorite brands. For example, by 1995, more than 25 million cigars were on backorder; in 1996, that number was more than 50 million. Cigar brands such as Arturo Fuente and La Gloria Cubana became impossible. For six weeks of the summer of 1996, General Cigar didn’t ship a single Macanudo cigar, the best-selling premium cigar in the United States.

The boom was partly fueled by the introduction of premium cigars, which were more expensive and of higher quality than traditional cigars. This led to a change in the way cigars were marketed and consumed. Cigars became associated with luxury and sophistication, and cigar bars and lounges began appearing in major cities nationwide.

The boom ended in the late 1990s, with sales leveling off and some manufacturers going out of business. However, the boom’s impact can still be felt in the cigar industry today, with premium cigars remaining a popular and profitable product for manufacturers and retailers alike.


Following the cigar production and consumption boom in the late 19th century, the US government began to regulate the industry. In 1906, the Pure Food and Drug Act required that all foods and drugs, including cigars, be accurately labeled with their contents. This was followed by the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965, which required that all cigarette packaging include a warning label about the health risks of smoking.

However, it wasn’t until 2009 that the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act gave the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate all tobacco products, including cigars. This act required that all cigar packaging include warning labels and that all new cigars introduced to the market after February 15, 2007, be reviewed by the FDA before being sold.

Since then, the FDA has continued to regulate the cigar industry. In 2016, the FDA issued a final rule that extended its authority to all tobacco products, including premium cigars. This rule requires that all tobacco products be subject to premarket review and that the FDA approves all new products before being sold. The law also prohibits the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18.

Cigar History of Other Geographies

European Cigar History

Cigar history in Europe is fascinating, marked by a long tradition of cigar-making and smoking that dates back centuries. Cigars have significantly influenced various cultures and traditions throughout Europe, with many countries having unique cigar-making traditions and styles. For example, Cuba is widely regarded as the birthplace of the modern cigar, while the Dominican Republic is known for producing some of the world’s finest cigars. In Spain, cigars are often enjoyed with a glass of sherry; in Italy, they are often paired with a strong espresso.

The culture of cigar smoking in Europe is deeply rooted in history and tradition, with many famous figures throughout history being avid cigar smokers. For example, Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, was known for his love of cigars and often smoked them while working with patients. Today, cigar smoking remains a popular pastime in many parts of Europe, with many cigar clubs and lounges catering to cigar enthusiasts. The history of cigars is Europe is robust and interesting. Whether you are a seasoned cigar smoker or just starting to explore the world of cigars, Europe is a great place to learn about this fascinating pastime’s rich history and culture.

History of Cigars in Cuba

Cuba has a rich and fascinating cigar history that is deeply intertwined with the country’s political history. The Cuban Revolution of 1959, led by Fidel Castro, had a significant impact on the country’s cigar industry. Before the revolution, Cuba was a major exporter of tobacco and cigars to the United States, but the US government imposed a trade embargo on Cuba in 1960, which cut off the country’s access to the American market. Despite this setback, the Cuban cigar industry continued to thrive, and today, Cuban cigars remain some of the most highly prized and sought-after cigars in the world.

Fidel Castro was a well-known cigar enthusiast and was often seen smoking cigars in public. He was even known to give cigars as gifts to visiting dignitaries and heads of state. Castro’s love of cigars was so well-known that it became a part of his public image, and he is often associated with the iconic Cuban cigar. Despite the ongoing trade embargo, the Cuban government has continued to support the country’s cigar industry, and today, Cuban cigars remain a major source of revenue for the country. The history of Cuban cigars is one of triumph, excellence and resilience. Many cigar enthusiasts around the world continue to seek out Cuban cigars, which are widely regarded as some of the best cigars in the world.