Almost everybody has seen iconic images of some of the most famous politicians, actors and celebrities smoking a fat cigar as they celebrate victory or relax in their limited free time. However, despite cigars being a favorite of many politicians they are also one of the products governments have looked to tax at high levels in recent years. In the US, cigars have joined the majority of tobacco based products in seeing their prices rise as lawmakers see little difference between a cigar and any other tobacco product.
A cigar is a signifier of power, wealth and strength for many people and the iconic images of wartime British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill are perhaps the most famous of any politician in the world. Churchill’s own cigar smoking adventure began in Cuba at the end of the 19th century and went on to become the item the World War II leader become best known for holding throughout his battle with the Nazi’s. Churchill and his cigars became a symbol of democracy and independence as World War II raged around him and he maintained his love of Cuban cigars throughout the darkest times in British history and led the country to victory.
Throughout the history of the US the occupants of the Oval Office have always been linked to cigar smoking. President Bill Clinton was pictured on numerous occasions during his tenure as President with unlit cigars in his mouth, which is often now a lit cigar in the pictures of the former President now appear in the press. The smoking of cigars may have been popular at the birth of the US nation, but the arrival of James Madison in the White House appears to have been the first time a President was known to enjoy cigars on a regular basis. The politics of the 20th century saw many cigar smoking politicians take their place in Washington DC as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower both often pictured smoking cigars.
The anti-tobacco campaign has seen cigars hit with major taxation levels as more and more politicians have seen the need to keep all areas of the electorate happy and keep countries around the world economically stable. In the UK where Churchill walked the streets with as cigar firmly in his hand or mouth at almost every occasion the taxes on cigars and other tobacco products are high as funds are transferred to pay for public health services. In the US, cigar taxation hit its peak as a way for Lincoln to pay for the Civil War after the import of cigars from Cuba had previously been completed at high levels. In the 21st century cigar taxation is generally high as anti-smoking campaigners call on governments to raise taxes in a bid to limit the number of people who take up smoking cigars. Politicians often back these tax rises even though they themselves smoke cigars, such as the huge tax increase proposed in 2007.
Cigars will always be enjoyed by powerful people, such as politicians who understand this is an enjoyable activity and also gives the smoker a sense of power and wealth that is always enjoyable and important.