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  • Writer's pictureGary Cruice

Premium Cigars and the International Day of Rural Women

The United Nation's International Day of Rural Women for 2023 is 15 October. This year's theme is Rural Women Cultivating Good Food for All. In the spirit of the Sisters of the Leaf, we decided to point out how women are involved in the growing of tobacco and manufacture of premium cigars world-wide (and don't forget that Alec Bradley marketing campaign).

We already know that our own CDC mistakenly treats cigarettes the same as premium cigars and pipe tobacco. However, it seems that the WHO and UN also treat all tobacco the same - especially regarding growth of the crop. The WHO argues "the tobacco industry targets women, and exploits children," making no distinctions based on country, type of tobacco or product, nor recognizing the role of female owned farms. Both the Guardian and Xinhua (China's news agency) have run articles about successful female tobacco farmers. A 2016 study by the Public Health Institute found that in China (the World's largest tobacco producer), "The overwhelming majority of decision makers or joint decision makers regarding the farming activity and finances were women. Almost 55 percent of Chinese respondents were the sole signatory to the contract with tobacco companies with access to bank accounts and the payment from the tobacco company."

Anyone who has visited a premium cigar factory knows that it is women who do the sorting, banding, and most of the box packing. Jobs where a keen eye and attention to detail are required. Many premium cigar companies are owned or run by women (check the SOTL link). Those companies also employ women in the sales departments as inside and outside sales positions. Finally, many premium cigar lounges are female owned, even here in Acadiana!

As you smoke your favorite premium cigar today, spend a moment thinking about all of the Rural Women (and men, and urban women and men, and...) who helped provide you such enjoyment.

Maya Selva inspecting one of her tobacco fields.
Honduran tobacco grower and premium cigar manufacturer Maya Selva inspects one of her fields.

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