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China, Cigars, and Women—it’s About Time!

In the last few years, more and more women have made their way into the culture of cigar smoking, from Demi Moore’s epic 1996 interview in Cigar Aficionado to the numerous cigar blogs written by women, like Her Humidor and Smoking Hot Cigar Chick. China, in particular, has had in influx in female cigar smoking in the last few years, according to an article in CNN.

China is one of the fastest growing consumers of cigars in the world, spending around RMB 2.2 billion (just over $334 million USD) per year on stogies. And given that China, according to a Forbes Magazine article, is home to half of the world’s 14 self-made female billionaires, it’s no surprise that an increasing number of women are becoming involved in cigar culture.

Lily Wang, a former investment banker in China, is well on her way to paving the way for women in China who appreciate a good stogie. Wang, publisher of Cigar Ambassador, a popular Chinese cigar magazine, has opened five cigar clubs since first publishing the magazine in 2005—three in Shanghai and two in Beijing—earning her the nickname of “Shanghai’s cigar queen.”

Wang explained in the CNN article, “Cigars [may be] regarded as [a] man’s toy, but the industry today is full of women.” She said that female membership in her cigar club has jumped from 5 percent to 8 percent since last year, and continues to grow daily.

Daisy Dong, cigar dame at the Westin Bund Center, Shanghai’s first official cigar shop, has had over 10 years in the cigar industry. According to her observations, a lot of women who buy cigars either buy them for their boyfriends, bosses, or clients, or buy them on impulse. She did add, however, that a lot of these women are new cigarette-to-cigar converts. “Over the past six years I’ve noticed, particularly in Shanghai, a large number of women smoking to deal with increasing pressures of city life with some, not all, making the change to cigars,” she explained in the CNN article.

I think that this increase in female cigar smokers is great for a lot of reasons, and not just because of the obvious eye candy factor (see Zac’s famous post). In my experience smoking cigars, I’ve gotten some comments from women about how cigar smoking is somehow a chauvinistic ritual. I understand that cigar smoking is still fairly male-dominated, but I’d like to think that in today’s day and age, women are perfectly welcome to join in. As Lily Wang put it in the CNN interview, “A true cigar lover is just that—man or woman, it shouldn’t matter.” We couldn’t agree more!