Charlotte Cigar Week is back for a second consecutive year. The kickoff for its first event was Tuesday.
Founder Damon Robinson launched the festival in 2022 to network with fellow cigar smokers and support local lounges.
The six-day celebration features 10 themed events for patrons to enjoy a cigar and network at local lounges across Charlotte.
“Cigars are a great equalizer,” the 47-year-old Mobile, Ala. native told QCity Metro. “You could be the guy who’s sweeping the floor, or you could be the CEO. When you’re both smoking a cigar, it’s only level-playing.”
All events, excluding VIP, are free for entry to the general public this week. Events will feature food, drinks, vendors and cigar educational sessions.
Celebrating cigar culture
Robinson, who is an avid cigar smoker, moved to Charlotte in 2016 from Tennessee. He realized there was only “a handful” of cigar lounges in the area.
As years passed, Charlotte’s cigar market steadily increased with the opening of more lounges. Robinson decided to create a weeklong event dedicated to fellow cigar smokers.
“I wanted to do something to kind of bring us all together and showcase the [local] lounges,” he said.
Robinson said he reached out to several lounges, and many agreed to participate in his inaugural event.
The lounges include:
- Tailored Smoke
- The Vintage Whiskey & Cigar Bar
- Gold Leaf Cigar Lounge
- Burners Cigar Co
- Aroma Cigars Etc. Lounge
- Cigar Loft
- Smoke and Barrel Cigar Bar and Lounge.
Havana 33 — not a cigar lounge — agreed to be a host restaurant during the week.
Robinson said he marketed the week on social media, and hundreds of people from across the country participated in 2022.
Following the week, Robinson surveyed the participating lounges and business owners . Many reported seeing 100% to 1,000% profit, he said.
To recognize the week’s impact on the local economy, the City of Charlotte issued a proclamation recognizing Charlotte Cigar Week as an annual event.
Dunavant, Bernard Cigar Company and CLT Hub have also joined cigar week this year. Robinson said that Hilton Charlotte in University is the host hotel for the week.
Robinson, who views himself as a “cigar nerd,” said there are many misconceptions about smoking cigars, most notably its negative comparison to cigarettes.
“Some people don’t smoke cigars because they think they are big cigarettes,” he said. “Cigars are all-natural products.”
Robinson said he wants to be an advocate for cigar culture in Charlotte and provide an experience for both beginners and long-time smokers to enjoy.
“It’s my way of giving back to the cigar community,” he said.