Despite holding some of the highest positions at cigar companies around the world, women can be an uncommon sight at your local tobacconist. One organization, the International Women’s Cigar Society (IWCS), is hoping to show cigar-makers the great potential women can contribute to the industry. It’s good news for everyone who enjoys a fine smoke, because additional adult cigar enthusiasts can spur the growth of cigar brands and create even more sticks for us all to enjoy.
One of the IWCS’ founding members, Mary Lynn Kane, has served as President since the group’s inception four years ago. She was the perfect woman for the position, having 25 years of smoking experience, both as the co-owner of a cigar store and as one of the creators of the famous female cigar club, “The Cigar Babes.”
“Women aren’t in this for any individual recognition or even group recognition,” Kane explains. “This is a way to make a difference by including women in the industry.”
One way the IWCS has helped highlight the role women play in making the cigars we know and love is with their Women’s Impact Award, which was awarded to Altadis U.S.A.’s own Janelle Rosenfeld in 2011. This accolade showcases women who have done great work as cigar makers or retailers. It’s a great honor for any adult cigar-lover to receive, not only as a testament to her work, but also because it allows her to personally choose the following year’s recipient, alternating each year between manufacturers and retailers.
Acting as an umbrella organization, the IWCS currently has a network of 10 female cigar clubs across the country. With a centralized organization, these groups are now more connected than ever.
Perhaps the biggest reason the IWCS has been able to achieve such great results is because they are dedicated to working directly with cigar retailers and manufacturers. A great example of this is their “Ring of Fire” event.
The event, which is themed after the iconic Johnny Cash song, creates a network of cigar events in different parts of the country. It’s great for retailers because it brings in a slew of adult cigar smokers they wouldn’t usually reach, while women in particular benefit from great deals on their favorite smokes. Even better for attendees, one lucky cigar buyer wins the real ring of fire — a beautiful piece of jewelry donated by a local jeweler.
Because they benefit from the financial contributions of cigar-makers, the IWCS does its part to help them, too. Besides just spreading the word to other women about how pleasurable the cigar experience can be, the group has also begun conducting research about the cigar habits of adult female enthusiasts. This research, which can greatly help brands to reach the valuable female demographic, should be available by the next IPCPR show in July at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas.
The IWCS also helps the industry with very affordable rates. It costs cigar manufactures just $295 to join and retailers $100. For this small fee, they receive an invitation to join the “Ring of Fire,” recognition on the IWCS’ official Facebook page and information on planning couples and womens events.
With a network of talented professionals, the IWCS tries to do good for more than just the industry they are passionate about. As much as they enjoy joking around and smoking premium cigars, the IWCS members are also driven to help charities located in tobacco-growing regions. With much experience in fundraising, the members are already achieving great results in those communities.
From just one conversation with Mary Lynn Kane, it’s clear how passionate she and her group are about bettering the cigar industry. For those who want to help make a difference, the IWCS can help connect women who enjoy premium cigars as much as their male counterparts. The IWCS can also be a great way to introduce wives and girlfriends to the hobby we cherish.
As you can see, there are a number of reasons to appreciate the IWCS, but I think their tagline sums it up best: “Making a Difference One Puff at a Time.”
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