When you think of cigars, you may think of a group of men huddled around a fireplace or perhaps a dirty magazine, twisting their mustaches while stinking up velvet chairs and leather sofas. But more women are smoking cigars now, too — about 2% of U.S. women smoke cigars, as compared with 9.1% of men, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This also includes 8.4% of all female students in grades 9 through 12 and 2.4% of female students in grades 6 through 8. Is cigar smoking the new cheerleading?
Celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, and Heidi Klum have been known to puff on cigars, according to Cigar Aficionado magazine. The Indianapolis Star recently profiled two thirty-something housewives who smoke a few a month from their husbands' stashes (yes, in 2014, not the 1950s).
To get women interested in the mysterious art of cigar smoking, manufacturers are marketing flavors like honey, vanilla, fruit, and mocha, many of which are sold in cute packs for your purse. Similarly, cigar bars and shops are creating events and experiences specifically for women. Groups like Urban Girl Squad in New York City have hosted events like cigar and scotch tastings, an evening perhaps best suited to your grandfather half a century ago, because "there's nothing sexier than really knowing your way around scotch and cigars," they say. Also nothing sexier than engaging in unhealthy habits to attract a man, right?
So why are women into this unhealthy and not inexpensive trend? It may be an attempt at equality: women can do anything men can do, even if it's dangerous and off-putting. Smoking cigars, like riding motorcycles, watching football, or running for president, is an image often associated with masculinity, so women doing so may help them gain empowerment. But is self harm empowering? Not really.