Tobacco Asia

Volume 18, Number 2

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Page 35 of 71

36 tobaccoasia The Cigar Market: One More Dragon Growing in China It is often said that we live in a changing world, but one thing that never changes, or that never diminishes perhaps, is the capacity of people to find things to worry about. It might be the cost of underwear, the length of teenagers' hair (too long, too short, too medium) or global climate change, but there is always some problem sim- mering away, and usually two or three others on the back-burner. Nobody is immune to this sort of anguish and lately the cigar industry has given to worrying about where the additional leaf tobacco is going to be sourced from considering that China's market for premium cigars continues to expand at current rates. Chinese market for cigars, said Jin, grew by 820% between 2005 and 2012. He does admit that such an impressive growth may – at least partially – be due to a low starting point: cigar smoking, particu- larly when it comes to premium hand-rolled cigars, is a considerably new pastime. Its beginnings may be roughly traced to the same period as the start of China's economic miracle. Much like the locals' present affinity for premium alcohol, sports cars and jewelry, the appreciation of fine cigars came to China as it flexed its economic muscles and the Chinese dragon began its meteoric rise into business stratosphere. By 2015, Jin expects to see 10% of China's 400 million smokers (admittedly a rather high estimate well above last year's CCTV report that put the number of smokers in China at around 350 million) turn into cigar smokers. If each of those 40 million cigar smokers con- sumed just one cigar a week, the total number of cigars smoked in China annually would be 2.08 bil- lion. If they smoked one a day, the figure would rise to 14.6 billion. And if they smoked 10 a day the figure would be, at 146 billion, higher than the cigarette volumes of all but a handful of countries, which, even to me, seems fairly fanciful. Still, to give the two smaller figures some further context: "The Chinese market for cigars grew by 820% between 2005 and 2012" Edward Jin, one of the founders of China- based Cigar Ambassador, said that China's cigar culture had developed rapidly in recent years; and he was not exaggerating, at least in so far as vol- ume figures can be equated with cigar culture. The

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