Cigars are often advertised directly to men, and, indeed, are represented as highly masculinized and often genteel. An ad from the Cigar Institute of America in 1963, for example, lets men know that if they “wear a cigar,” they will “look smart.” Masculinity is sometimes approached through sexualization of the cigar, as in the Don Diegos ad from the 1990s featuring a woman sucking on a cigar or the Celesitino Vega ad from the same period, which features a Hawaiian surfer posing at the beach with a giant, phallic surfboard painted to resemble a cigar. Other times, masculinity is portrayed through a more reserved route, as in the 1950s ad from the Cigar Institute of America, which claims that “In the eyes of his own family, every father is a success. And the father who knows cigars knows a very special kind of success.” The family unit and the fatherly figure are referenced often in cigar ads.
In addition, cigars are seen as a means to celebrate. An ad for Antonio y Cleopatra cigars says, “When a moment is worth remembering enjoy a cigar that’s hard to forget.” In the same vein, pink or blue candy cigars are often given to a new father to celebrate the birth of a child.
Beyond these approaches, many cigar ads focus on throat ease, since unlike cigarette smoke, cigar smoke cannot be inhaled due to its high alkalinity. Though these ads advertise health benefits for cigar smoking – Girard says its smoke is mild, so doctors recommend it, and Mell-O-Well calls its smoke “the health cigar” — cigar smoking is associated with higher incidences of oral cancers than cigarette smoking, and nicotine is absorbed in higher levels as well. Still, and ad for White Owl cigars tells you to switch to cigars or pipes “when you can’t give up smoking.” The main reason? No need to inhale. Most misleading, perhaps, is a 1964 ad from the Cigar Institute of America, which proclaims, incorrectly, “Cigar smokers start young and stay young!”