Cigar smoking in America peaked during a five-year period in the 1990s when the economy was booming. Celebrities, 20-somethings and others -- including women -- smoked cigars as "Cigar Aficionado" magazine tied cigar smoking with a slogan it called "the good life." More than 417.8 million cigars were imported into the United States in 1997, with the number falling to 248 million in 1999 as suppliers struggled to keep up with the demand and the fad faded. The boom years may never return, but cigar smoking remains popular in America as of 2011, with many pros and cons.
Antismoking laws across the United States are definitely a negative for cigar smokers. There are few public places for smoking cigars. Cigar parties at restaurants and bars were common during the boom years, but tough antismoking legislation makes that impossible in most places as of 2011. Some bars with exemptions, such as cigar bars, allow indoor smoking. However, overall only a tiny number of establishments allow any smoking at all, and in many instances cigars were banned in public before all smoking because of the odor.
As of 2011 cigar manufacturers have long tried to distance cigars from cigarettes, which are a leading cause of health problems including lung cancer. However, the National Cancer Institute reports that daily use of cigars can also cause health problems, including lung cancer. That is the biggest negative for cigar smoking, although some cigar smokers argue that they smoke cigars only occasionally and never inhale. Many smokers of cigarettes inhale smoke into their lungs, increasing the risk of health problems.
Some people who support cigar smoking point to camaraderie as a positive for cigar smoking. Cigar smoking is a hobby for some, with "Cigar Aficionado" attracting hundreds of cigar smokers for an annual convention each year in Las Vegas, as of 2011. Cigar smokers swap stories, listen to seminars about the tobacco business and trade rare cigars over a long weekend. Smaller conventions were held around the country before antismoking laws made it impossible to find venues in some cities.
Other cigar smokers simply enjoy using tobacco products and cigars are their tobacco of choice. They enjoy a fine hand-rolled cigar during a round of golf or on their patio on a warm summer afternoon. It takes 30 minutes to an hour or more to smoke a large cigar, and some cigar smokers enjoy the time alone or with other cigar-smoking buddies.
Cigar smoking is a very expensive hobby, and that's another negative. As of 2011, many so-called premium cigars sell for $10 apiece and up, with prices of $15 or more not unusual. Premium cigars are hand-rolled by expert rollers using the finest tobacco. Other cigars without premium tobacco sell for around $5 as of 2011, with some available in bulk or at a discount for around $2.