Tobacco is an organically grown plant. No one knows when the first tobacco plant was discovered, however it is known that it was found in the Mexican Yucatan peninsula. It is known that the tobacco plant was used during the Maya civilization in Central America. When the Maya civilization fell, clans moved to North and South America.
In 1492, when Christopher Columbus found his way to the North American continent, he came across Native Americans smoking tobacco. From that point on, people began to smoke tobacco and it spread throughout Spain and Europe.
The premium, hand-rolled cigar as we know it today has changed little from those first rolled in Seville, Spain. In 1831 King Ferdinand VII granted Cubans the right to grow and sell tobacco in their homeland. In the US, tobacco was grown in various regions of the original British colonies. General Putnam is attributed with bringing tobacco to the state of Connecticut after serving in Cuba with the British Army in 1762.
After the Revolutionary War, tobacco factories sprang up in southern New England as well as Pennsylvania and New York. The word “stogie” is derived from Conestoga, Pennsylvania.
Cigar smoking in America had a dramatic rise during the Civil War era. Most cigars were made of domestic wrappers and Cuban fillers. Political upheaval in Cuba in the late 1800’s forced many manufacturers to flee to the U.S. The first revolution in Cuba took place in 1895, freeing the country from Spain’s control. Jose Marti supported by Teddy Roosevelt and his famous Rough Riders at San Juan Hill led this revolt.
The cigar and its myth of wealth and power have been popularized in modern times by many well-known figures in film and politics, here and abroad. From Bogart to Milton Berle, Edward G. Robinson, George Burns, MacArthur to Einstein and perhaps the most well known man of our century, Sir Winston Churchill.
Later in the ensuing years, the popularity and sophistication of tobacco products has widely grown and the 1990s has brought to us a significant increase in the popularity of cigars in the United States and a dramatic increase in the sales of imported premium cigar products.
Despite much of the controversy surrounding the use of tobacco products, the status of fine cigars as a luxury product in the American culture seems secure.