Bringing Cigars Back: The Art of Craft Tobacco

Cigars are smoked around the world for a number of different reasons. For most, cigars offer a great way to relax and bond, for others, they just love the rich flavors of a fine cigar. The art of craft tobacco dates as far back as pre-Columbian America. Moreover, native Americans smoked the tobacco in pipes during ceremonies and for medicinal reasons. 

By the mid-sixteenth century, tobacco had been introduced to Europe and the rest of the world. Over the years, there have been several trends in the cigar industry. In this article, we explore the history of cigars, taking you through past and current trends in the art of craft tobacco.  

The History & Tradition of Craft Tobacco

As a cigar shop owner, it is crucial to preserve the history of craft tobacco. By helping your customers understand the history of cigars, they appreciate it better and it also helps in marketing cigars. 

The use of tobacco gained global popularity in the sixteenth century. John Rolfe, an Englishman, successfully cultivated tobacco on a commercial scale in 1612. After that, diplomats and travelers like Jean Nicot had begun popularizing its use around Europe. 

Early users of tobaccos chewed, snuffed, and smoked it using pipes, with the use of cigars becoming popular in the 1800s. 

Cigarettes became even more popular in America after the civil war. James Buchanan Duke, in the 1880s, sponsored the invention of the first cigarette-making machine. 

In the early twentieth century, the scientific community began to publish papers on the possible effects of smoking. This led to a lot of uncertainty about tobacco and caused a decline in sales. However, despite many attempts to slow down the booming tobacco industry,  including numerous legal battles, nobody has been able to stop the tradition and art that comes from producing and smoking fine cigars.

Pioneers of the Industry

Several individuals and organizations have contributed to the immense growth of the tobacco industry, starting with Christopher Columbus, who first brought the seed and leaves of the plant to America. John Rolfe and Jean Nicot are two other notable names that contributed to the growth of the tobacco industry in the sixteenth century. Some other pioneers of the industry include:

  • Edgar M. Cullman; Edgar Cullman was the chairman of the General Cigar Company, New York in the United States. He contributed to the rapid growth of the tobacco industry in America. The Cullman family remains relevant in the industry. 
  • Frank Llaneza; Frank Llaneza worked as a tobacco blender before becoming an executive with Villazon & Co. Villazon & Co. is reputed for manufacturing several premium cigar brands after the Cuban Embargo of 1962. The company was part of the resurgence of the Tobacco industry. These guys have been around for a long time, and you know some of their famous brands today such as Punch, Hoyo de Monterrey, Siglo, and Bolivar.
  • Stanford J. Newman; The J.C. Newman Cigar Company is one of the most popular globally. The company was founded in 1895 and is currently the oldest family-owned premium cigar company globally. Julius Caesar Newman founded the company, leaving it to his son, Stanford Newman, who’s taken the company to the heights it has achieved today. The Newman family ended up partnering with the Fuente family, leading to one of the most successful collaborations of all time.
  • Hermann Dietrich Upmann; Hermann was the founder of the H.Upmann brand. The brand was founded in Cuba in 1844 and is one of the biggest brands in the tobacco industry globally. 

The Growth

Apart from these individuals, several organizations have contributed to the growth of the craft tobacco industry, some of which remain relevant in today’s market. Take Drew Estate for example, which is based in Nicaragua and produces several brands of premium cigars. The company was founded in 1996 by Jonathan Drew and Marvin Samel, two fraternity brothers in New York City with a dream of selling their favorite cigars. 

Also, the nationalization of several cigar companies in Cuba under the leadership of Fidel Castro lead to an increase in the quality of production from the country, plus, with the embargo keeping Cuban cigars from being sold in the United States, demand for these cigars only went up, as many smokers will do whatever they can to get their hands on the legendary cigars from that island.

The 90s Cigar Boom

The cigar industry hit one of its all-time lows in 1992. The customer base of the cigar industry was aging and contracting. In addition, sales had been steadily declining for about thirty years. As a result, most investors began to consider the cigar industry as one with no future. 

But, when things seemed bleak for the industry in the mid-1980s, the Dominican Republic became a hot spot for the production of cigars. More brands began importing premium handmade cigars towards the beginning of 1992, after the appearance of the famous Cigar Aficionado magazine. These events led to an appreciable boom in the cigar industry, as now more and more people were able to have access to cigars, and the information around them. 

Most cigar companies started getting significant improvement in their sales after 1993. Astoundingly, the market of premium cigars in the US tripled between 1992 and 1996. Most cigar shops started getting more customers, and more cigar bars and diners opened across the country. 

One notable effect of the boom was the industry-wide expansion. Cigar shops expanded to satisfy the increased demand, and new opportunities started opening throughout the cigar industry. 

Recent Rise in Demand

Cigar lovers were not just buying any cigars. They were starting to pay more attention to specific brands and quality. While some customers continued buying cigars in boxes, the sales of singles also started gaining a lot of popularity, as more people wanted to expand their taste range, and enjoy a variety of different smokes.

On the production front, manufacturers started exploring more flavourful smoke blends. For example, some companies even moved towards the movement of flavor-infused cigars. In addition, to really get as much flavor out of their blends as possible.

Apart from the US, other countries also started exploring the cigar industry. Cuba, which already had a reputation for tobacco production, also expanded into cigars. Cuaba, a new cigar brand starts in Cuba in 1996. Several other popular brands soon followed this.

The 90s boom of the cigar industry is still regarded as one of the notable periods in the industry’s history. Firstly in 1996, six cigar companies went public. 

Current trends and opportunities for Cigar Shops

The tobacco industry remains one of the biggest industries in the world as craft tobacco continues to boom. However, not all cigar businesses can leverage the vast opportunities in the industry. In other words, it is no longer enough to have quality premium cigars. That is to say, cigar brands need to position their brand to attract the right clients. 

Leveraging various strategies is just one of the ways we can help you reach your target market. Above all, by combining your enthusiasm and love for premium cigars and our marketing expertise, we can help you dominate your local market. So get in touch with us today to get started. 

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