The History of Cigar & Its Origin

smoking a cigar by jay | Updated on January 14th, 2023

From ancient Mayans to modern-day aficionados, cigar smoking has existed for centuries. This blog post looks back at the long and storied history of cigars. Whether you’re a novice smoker or an experienced cigar enthusiast, this post will give you some interesting insights into cigars.


The word “cigar” is derived from the Spanish word “cigarro,” which in turn is considered to be derived from the Maya language word “sik,” meaning tobacco. A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco leaves.

Discovery of Cigars

The inhabitants of Central and South America have smoked cigars for many centuries.

Primitive cigars were different in shape and form from today’s cigars. They were a bundle of dried and fermented tobacco leaves wrapped in other kinds of leaves.

Cigars: Who Created Them?

The ancient Mayans are credited with inventing cigars, and their use of the tobacco leaf is well documented in art and pottery from the 10th century. Initially, cigars were made from palm or plantain leaves wrapped around tobacco, and smoking was believed to have been used as part of religious and cultural rituals.

Depictions of the Mayan god of pleasure puffing on a primitive cigar are often seen in Mayan art. As the Mayan civilization spread, so too did their use of tobacco. When Christopher Columbus first encountered the indigenous people of the Americas, they had already been smoking cigars for centuries.

The Mayans were not the only civilization to use tobacco as a form of smoking. Ancient illustrations depict Mayan civilizations smoking from what appears to be leaf-wrapped cigars. These drawings were one of the first depictions of what we now call cigars, and the Mayans’ tobacco use likely inspired them.

A ceramic pot discovered in Guatemala that dates at least as far back as the 10th century depicts a Mayan puffing on tobacco leaves. This pot is believed to be one of the earliest pieces of evidence that suggests the ancient civilizations of Central America used tobacco for smoking purposes. The pot also provides insight into the crude form of the cigar, as it appears to show a Mayan using a palm or plantain leaf to wrap the tobacco before puffing away.

This discovery demonstrates how integral tobacco has been in Central American culture for centuries. Today, many cigar enthusiasts look to the ancient Mayans for inspiration and smoke cigars in their honor.

Cigars in the Age of Discovery

In 1492, Christopher Columbus famously discovered the Americas and, along with it, tobacco. His discovery brought the plant back to the shores of Europe, leading to the popularization of cigars and other tobacco products.

The Spanish were quick to capitalize on Columbus’s discovery, exploiting Cuba’s tobacco quality and proving that its cigars were of the highest quality. This marked an important milestone in the history of cigars and set the stage for introducing cigar culture in Europe.

Thus cigars soon became popular in Spain and Portugal.

Later the cigar became famous in France by Jean Nicot on his return from Portugal, where he was a diplomat. The tobacco plant was named Nicotiana after him.

Previously, tobacco smoking was known for its medicinal values, but later it was denounced by Philip II of Spain and James I of England, who considered it evil.

Manufacturing of Cigars & Cigar’s Introduction to Europe

Cigars, as we see them today, were first manufactured in Spain in the 18th century using Cuban tobacco.

Subsequently, the manufacturing of cigars started in France and Germany too. Soon cigars became famous all over Europe. Cigar smoking was considered fashionable.

Since the Age of Discovery, the popularity of cigars has been growing. By the 18th century, cigar smoking had become a popular pastime among the upper class in countries such as Spain and Italy. The habit of smoking cigars spread to other European countries as well, and by 1717, cigars using Cuban tobacco were being made in Seville. With Europeans enjoying the taste and feel of cigars, the popularity of this pastime only continued to rise.

Cigar’s Introduction to Cuba

After Christopher Columbus discovered tobacco in Cuba, the cigar quickly spread through Europe and the rest of the world. This led to a period of growth in Cuba’s cigar industry, as the country became the source of tobacco for many countries around the world.

In 1717, King Ferdinand VII of Spain decreed that all tobacco grown in Cuba was to be used exclusively for making cigars and that all tobacco exports were to be done only through Havana. This decision marked a significant turning point in Cuban cigar history, establishing Cuba’s status as the premier producer of cigars.

The quality and craftsmanship of Cuban cigars were also greatly improved during this period as new production techniques were introduced. By the 19th century, Cuban cigars had become renowned for their superior quality and flavor and were being exported to many countries throughout Europe and beyond.

The Decree of King Ferdinand VII

In 1821, King Ferdinand VII of Spain passed a decree that allowed Cubans to cultivate and trade tobacco freely, giving the world access to Cuban-made cigars. This was a major milestone in the history of cigars and marked the beginning of Cuba’s role in the international cigar industry.

The decree of King Ferdinand VII was a major turning point in Cuban cigar history. It allowed the free trade of Cuban tobacco to the rest of the world, sparking the growth of cigar production on the island and creating a booming industry in what would become one of the world’s leading producers of premium cigars.

The decree also marked an important moment in Cuban politics; it was a sign of progress from authoritarian Spanish rule toward a more progressive and democratic government. The impact of this decree is still felt today – many of the world’s finest cigars come from Cuba, thanks to its long history of producing high-quality tobacco.

Cuba’s Role in Cigar History

Cuban cigars have been renowned for their quality and taste for centuries, playing an integral role in the history and development of Cuba. The practice of smoking tobacco was exported to Europe when Christopher Columbus arrived in Cuba in 1492.

In 1511, Spain took control of the island nation, and by 1614, La Casa de Contratatacion de la Habana was formed to develop tobacco production. This led to a royal monopoly on tobacco products that allowed for an increase in quality and exports. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, Cuban cigars reached a new high in quality; however, exports seldom exceeded 100 million.

Cigars arrived back in America in the middle of the 18th century. They were first manufactured in Connecticut from tobacco leaves grown using Cuban tobacco seeds.

Connecticut had already been growing tobacco since the beginning of the 17th century. At that time, cigars were made at home by cigar rollers. The cigar soon became a status symbol for Americans after its popularity soared around 1860 during the Civil War.

The popularity of cigars can be judged by the fact that in European trains, smoking cars were made available for cigar smokers and after-dinner cigars became a tradition in European culture. Later, cigarettes or paper cigars were introduced, which were less expensive than cigars.

High-quality cigars are handmade and sold under reputed brands, usually the long-established family names of cigar manufacturers. Famous families in high-quality cigar manufacturing are Arturo Fuente, Carlos Torano, and Altadis.

At the beginning of the 20th century, around 1920, Cuban cigar manufacturers started making cheap machine-made cigars compared to handmade cigars.

US President John F. Kennedy embargoed Cuba in 1962. Of course, before imposing the embargo, he directed his press secretary to purchase every Cuban cigar he could locate. After storing around 1,200 of them, Kennedy imposed a trade ban.

Many new nations adopted Cuban cigars, and new brands such as Hoyo de Monterrey and Partagas rose to prominence. However, the sector struggled during the 1980s.

Exiled Cuban cigarmakers traveled far and wide in quest of new sites to grow and roll cigars. Dominican Republic, Nicaragua.

Cigarette smoking was down in the United States in the early 1990s, but cigar smoking was increasing. In mid-1991, the country emerged from a recession that made some affluent even wealthier. They purchased cigars. Cigar Aficionado magazine debuted in 1992.

The standard today is higher. Boutique brands like Tatuaje are competing with top brands. Cigar rolling technology to test the cigar for a better draw and a wide range of tobacco blends and mixing from different countries brought a new era of cigars.

The most major and recent consumer shift happened in 2014 when President Barack Obama relaxed limits on Americans visiting Cuba and bringing back Cuban cigars. With restrictions, these cigars can now be purchased in countries other than Cuba and brought into the United States.

Cigars of Various Types

Cigars come in a variety of styles. The most frequent is the Parejo, which was most likely the first cigar form invented by the Mayans. It is a basic cylinder, identical to the form of current cigarettes.

Parejo cigars come in various sizes and shapes, including Toro, Corona, and Carlota. Some Parejo cigars, such as Churchill, Rothschild, and Lonsdale, were named after renowned persons who smoked in public and contributed to cigars’ popularity.

Figurado cigars were popular in the 1800s but are no longer as popular now.

Their uneven form distinguishes them, making them costly to construct and acquire. Indeed, for those fortunate enough to locate them for sale on the market, these cigars are collectors’ goods.

The Presidente, Torpedo, and Toscano are just a few popular figurado cigars.

Little cigars appeared later. They are similar to current cigarettes but do not have a high tax like modern cigarettes. Little cigars, which are not typical, have grown in popularity in recent years.

smoking a cigar


Self proclaimed cigar expert. I've been smoking since 2010. I've practically lived at a cigar lounge from 10am to 10pm and trying every new cigar that came out for years.

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