Renowned for their quality and long-associated with power and money, cigars have been a strong part of popular culture for many years. From plot devices in films to being spotted between the lips of the elite, cigars have long had a place in the cultural spotlight.
While other methods of smoking, such as cigarettes, have taken a turn in popularity in recent years, with it often associated as a negative habit, cigars have retained their status on screen, and are commonly used to denote power.
We take a look at the role of the cigar in popular culture, and a few of the places you may have spotted these beloved smokes!
Power and Class
Cigars are often considered a high-class item. While cigarettes can be picked up at your local supermarket, to get a quality cigar you’ll be looking at visiting a dedicated cigar vendor, such as Havana House. This feeling of exclusivity adds to the allure of the cigar.
With this comes a connection to power. Cigars are typically more expensive than other forms of smoking, and so in the past quality Cuban cigars would be associated with rich and powerful people.
As such, cigars have come to be used to signify power and wealth in films – which is why they are so often smoked by the likes of political figures, villains and crime bosses in the movies (and in real life!).
Famous Cigar Smokers of the Past
With smoking being a much bigger part of culture in the past, there are many famous cigar smokers from decades past. This includes popular figures from literature, stage and screen, including Alfred Hitchcock, Mark Twain and Groucho Marx.
In addition, cigars were popular with many political figures, such as JFK, Fidel Castro and Winston Churchill. Churchill loved cigars so much that a famous vitola, Churchill, was created and named after him!
As well as this, many biopics of Churchill have been created, such as ‘Darkest Hour’ (2017), each depicting him puffing on his favourite cigars and reintroducing these smokes to the screen!
Discover more about our favourite cigar-smoking icons:
Famous Cigar Smokers of the Present
Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most famous examples, regularly frequenting the cover of Cigar Aficionado magazine and sneaking cigars into some of his films, including Predator (1987). Other actors like Danny DeVito, Whoopi Goldberg and Jack Nicholson are all known for loving cigars too.
More recently, younger celebrities have also taken sharing their love of cigars, with singer Nick Jonas being the youngest ever person to hold a cigar on the cover of Cigar Aficionado in 2019, at the age of 27.
Cigars on Screen
From being commonplace on screen in older films to being used as a symbol of celebration or power in more modern movies, there are many great examples of cigars being shown on screen.
- A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
- A Few Dollars More (1965)
- The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966)
- Scarface (1983)
- Predator (1987)
- Independence Day (1996)
- Die Another Day (2002)
- Hellboy (2004)
- The Wolverine (2013)
- Darkest Hour (2017)
For clips of all these great cigar scenes and more, check out our previous blog on cigars in films:
Cigars in Music Videos
Cigars have also been seen in many music videos, particularly those in the rap genre. For example, real-life cigar smoker JAY-Z is seen smoking a cigar in several of his videos, including ‘Show Me What You Got’ and ‘Big Pimpin’’. Likewise, Nas smokes a cigar throughout his video for ‘Can’t Forget About You’.
While often associated with men, there are many female cigar smokers too, including Shakira and Rihanna, who each enjoy a cigar in the music video for ‘Can’t Remember to Forget You’.
As a great example of cigars being used in popular culture to signify power, Taylor Swift ‘smokes’ a cigar while dressed as a businessman as a way to establish dominance in her video for “The Man”. See the second slide of the above Instagram post.
There are plenty more examples of cigars being spotted in film, television and other forms of popular culture – is there a moment that springs to mind for you? Let us know your favourite cigar moments in popular culture by leaving a comment below or sharing it with us on social media!