The birth of the cigar is a topic up for debate among many cigar fans. It could be argued that those who invented cigars were the ancient Mayans. However, the Mayans were not the first culture introduced the closest relevant artifact that resembles a cigar to the western world.
Who smoked the first cigar?
It is agreed upon by many modern-day historians and cigar aficionados that the Spanish crewmen of Christopher Columbus first encountered native cultures that smoked a cigar like substance on the island of Hispaniola. The natives there are associated with the Mayan cultures which originated on the Yucatan Peninsula. However, to claim those are people who first invented cigars might be considered bold as the tobacco plant is indigenous not only to the Americas but also to Africa and Australia. One could argue the first cigar ever smoked was in Africa thousands of years before the Mayan culture formed. The word cigar is said by some to be derived from the Mayan word ‘sikar’ which refers to tobacco rolled in thick leaves and smoked. Mayans used the smoke for medicinal, spiritual and social purposes. Europeans left these components of tobacco use behind and introduced its use to Europe for medicinal and social use purposes. The question of who invented cigars still remains open for debate as the Indians who shared the cigar smoking tradition with the Spanish crewmen technically did not produce them for commercial use.
Where were cigars made first?
Spaniards are reported to have adopted the habit of smoking tobacco but it was Jean Nicot a French ambassador who gave his name to the medicinal component of tobacco, now called Nicotine.
It was the Spanish, not the French, who built the first cigar factory on the island of Cuba. The plant would have grown well in certain parts of Spain, however prince Phillip the II of Spain and James the I of England did not take kindly to the sweet and often overpowering effects of nicotine. Growing the plant was forbidden in their kingdoms however the Catholic church began to grow it in certain areas of Italy. Regardless of these obstacles, the Spanish merchants were determined to make a profit of this new European pastime and began to cultivate it in the Caribbean and Americas. Who invented cigars? While many would love to lay claim to the origins of this billion-dollar business the Spanish are most notably credited with its invention.