Cigars & The Military

The Military & Cigars

Cigars have a long-standing history with the military. It's not just that soldiers like cigars. It's that cigars have played a role in shaping the very nature of warfare itself. The history of cigars in the military can be traced back to a time when tobacco was used for trade. Over the years, this sentiment carried through and became interwound with the life of soldiers.

 History of Cigars in the Military

Cigars were first introduced to soldiers in the 18th century, when they were given to soldiers as part of their uniforms. This was done because it was believed that smoking would help keep soldiers alert and awake while they were on duty. In the late 1800s, when men on the battlefield would cut open their cigars and insert tobacco leaves into them to make them last longer. They would do this because they were so addicted to their cigars that they didn't want to waste any of their precious supply!

During the Spanish-American War, the military gave soldiers cigars with their rations. Originally, cigarettes were given as rations. However, soldiers quickly learned that cigarettes did not hold up well in the battlefield. The military soon learned that cigars had multiple benefits. Among these benefits included: helping soldiers relax and masking the smell of sewage and decomposing bodies. Cigars are also notable for helping soldiers to help alleviate stressors, boredom, and to help soldiers bond during their down-time. 

Cigars became increasing popular with the military during World War I. One wartime General (Pershing) is quoted for saying, “you asked me what we need to win this war. I answered tobacco as much as bullets. Tobacco is as indispensable as the daily ration.” During this era, the use of cigars in the military was heavily praised by the media. The positive reinforcement for cigars and the military continued during the World War II era.

The popularity of cigars in the military continued to rise after World War II. However, the harmful effects of smoking were being realized. Despite these realizations, the benefits of supplying soldiers cigars outweighed the potential risks. The benefits of cigars included having a constant supply of tobacco products available at all times: namely, being able to relax after a stressful day or having something else to do besides just sitting around waiting for something bad (like an enemy attack) to happen again later on down the road!

 Attempts to Regulate Cigars within the Military

While cigars have a long-standing history with the military, at one point, they were banned. During the 1980’s the United State government launched an aggressive ban to prevent soldiers from smoking in the workplace. The pushback against smoking cigars continued in 2022, when the Department of Defense issued an executive order preventing soldiers from smoking in government-owned spaces. Despite this ban, solders continue to enjoy cigars in the battlefield. Statistics support this finding. According to Marine Corps Community Service, “Over 79% of Active-duty Marines who use tobacco report that they use it to calm down, relax, or relieve stress.” While this study focuses on marines, it’s fair to argue that all active-duty soldiers face elevated levels of stress.

The Tradition of Cigars in the Military 

Even in the present, many members of the military continue to use cigars to alleviate their stressors. Yet, the tradition of gift giving is strong in the military, and cigars are a standard part of that. They’re seen as a sign of respect for the person you’re giving them to, who will likely be a long-time friend or even mentor.

Frontline Cigars is honored to give a portion of all proceeds to help a sick or injured first responder or soldier. Checkout our collection of Military cigars, or send a cigar to a solider today! 

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