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Which Countries Smoke the Most Cigars?

J. Bennett Alexander Alexander's picture

J. Bennett Alexander

As we all get back to traveling, and if you’re like me, you’re always looking for a cigar shop or cigar lounge in the countries you visit. I just got back from Europe and visited some iconic cigar shops and confirmed that Cuban cigars are in short supply. When you can get them, they’re very, very expensive. I was very happy to find my favorite Ashton ESG at a superb shop in Amsterdam. In Paris, the more than 300-year-old A La Civette had maybe eight Cuban facings, but plenty of non-Cuban cigars, including La Flor Dominicana’s Andalusian Bull. As I talked to the owners of the various shops, we got onto the subject of who’s buying and who’s smoking cigars. I asked them if they knew which countries had the most cigar smokers. No one knew for sure, and none said their countrymen were particularly big cigar consumers. No one knew exactly how you would go about figuring that out. Believe me, I searched everywhere I could think of.

Cigar Imports

One way to approach an answer to which countries smoke the most cigars is to look at cigar imports by country. Various international agencies calculate how many smokers there are in individual nations, but don’t break out cigar smokers. So, imports might be a good way of getting an idea of where the big pockets of cigar smokers reside.

We’re Number One!

Not surprisingly, the wealthiest country in the world imported the most cigars in the most recent year for which there are reliable numbers. In 2022, the US imported some 464.5 million cigars, according to the Cigar Association of America. This is more than two percent higher than in 2021. That’s not a huge increase but shows a market that remains steady. The same is expected for 2023.

How many cigar smokers are there in the US? No one really knows, though federal government statistics show that cigars in 2021 were used by 3.5 percent of all adults and 6.2 percent of men. That would translate roughly to more than nine million Americans who smoked cigars. How many cigars? Can’t say.

Dollar Value

Perhaps one way of extrapolating which countries smoke the most cigars would be to look at the dollar value of annual cigar imports. This is hardly a perfect measure as cigars are expensive, and we don’t know if it’s tourists or locals buying them, but it could give a sense of where one might get a good cigar. In that respect, it’s not surprising to find that wealthier nations had the highest dollar levels of cigar imports.

The US, according to UN and other international statistics, in 2021 came in at nearly $1.5 billion, further supporting the idea that we probably have the highest number of cigar smokers in the world. Japan was a distant second at just 154 million in imports. Spain had 148.39 million, the Netherlands 118 million, China weighed in at 110 million, Switzerland 66 million, the UK 52 million, Canada 37.84 million, and Serbia 29 million.

  1. UNITED STATES – $1.5 billion
  2. JAPAN – $154 million
  3. SPAIN – $148.39 million
  4. THE NETHERLANDS – $118 million
  5. CHINA – $110 million
  6. SWITZERLAND – $66 million
  7. UNITED KINGDOM – $52 million
  8. CANADA – $37.84 million
  9. SERBIA – $29 million

Local Smoking

The other question I wondered about was whether countries that make and export cigars, like Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Honduras, had significant numbers of cigar smokers. Again, these are not particularly wealthy countries, though some cigars made for domestic sales are significantly less expensive than those made for the international markets. Anecdotally, I don’t see a lot of people smoking cigars when I visit these places.

Again, there’s no real information about cigar smokers in any of these countries. You want to know how many cigarettes the average person smokes annually? I can get you that but that’s not what we’re after and the figures aren’t all that recent.

The Future Worldwide

If we’re to believe market analyses, the following can be expected in the cigar market in the next few years.

  • In 2023, the cigar segment, as it’s called, will grow to US$22.43 billion.
  • The market will grow annually by 4.28 percent.
  • Most revenue will continue to be generated in the US.
  • The average volume per person in the cigars segment will amount to 7.67 pieces in 2023. (Not sure who’s smoking that two-thirds there.)

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