Cigars and Crime: Why is There a Connection?

man smoking a cigar

Whether you’re considering on-screen fictional depictions or real-life situations, there has long been an association between cigars and the world of crime. Several factors have consistently linked cigar smoking to mobsters and the Mafia, and films regularly put cigars in the hands of the powerful and corrupt. So why has this connection between crime and a fine smoke been established? We take a look at the reasons behind cigars being seen as a symbol of crime.


Cigars and Gangsters

The basis for this connection between cigars and criminals actually largely comes from real-life origins. The list of infamous gangsters who were known for being avid cigar fans is quite long. In fact, many Mafia men and mobsters acquired nicknames based on their love for the smoke. Crime boss Carmine Galante was nicknamed ‘The Cigar’, as he was rarely seen without a stogie. The same is true for many more American mobsters and crime bosses. Sam Giancana was known as ‘Sam the Cigar’, Michael Coppola as ‘Mikey Cigars’ and Robert DeLuca as ‘Bobby the Cigar’ to name but a few.

One of the most famous gangsters in the world, Al Capone is perhaps one of the key reasons for the connection between cigars and crime. Like many other gangsters, Capone was a big fan of cigars and was photographed puffing on a fat smoke on several occasions. Because of this, there is even a line of cigarillos available named “Al Capone”.


Cigars in Film

Playing off the association between gangsters and cigars, there is often a recurring theme when it comes to the way cigars are represented in popular culture. In many cases in film and television shows, cigars will be smoked by the criminal, or by those who display questionable morals and violent behaviour. While there are some cigar-smoking heroes, for the most part, cigars are best known in the hands of characters like drug lord Tony Montana in Scarface, or the mobsters in Goodfellas and The Godfather.

The association with cigars and bad guys in films has also been developed from changing views towards smoking. While smoking was once seen as an acceptable habit, with the heroes of cinema often seen puffing away on a cigar or cigarette, health concerns have led to smokes disappearing from the hands of protagonists. Instead, this sense of danger and prohibition that comes with smoking is now added to the villainous characters as a prop.


Why Cigars?

While those who enjoy the exquisite taste of a good Cuban won’t need to ask why someone would want to smoke a cigar, there are certainly several reasons why cigars have been used by mob bosses and to portray criminal intent.

A good cigar is the pinnacle of luxury and denotes wealth and power. It’s no secret that to keep up a smoking habit of quality cigars; you’ll need a little disposable income, so to be seen with a cigar so often you gain a cigar-related nickname indicates to others that you have the means. For gangsters, wealth and power go hand-in-hand, and cigars help those who smoke them to exude a sense of power.

Of course, there’s much more that a cigar can say about you. The sense of power, wealth and prestige that a cigar offers need not define you as a criminal! Instead, this power can be shifted into hero status, like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator and Will Smith in Independence Day in films, and political figures such as Winston Churchill and JFK in real life. If you’d like to experience all that cigars can offer, why not choose something from our extensive collection of smokes, such as a Montecristo cigar?

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