November 06, 1995 12:00 PM


Anyone foolish enough to believe a cigar is just a cigar need only take one whiff around Hollywood, where for stars including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, stogies have been power accessories for years. But the puff-and-ready club is no longer for men only. “Cigars taste so good,” says actress Tia Carrere, who, like Demi Moore, Sharon Stone and Madonna, regularly lights up. And Linda Evangelista, Cigar Aficionado magazine’s current cover girl, so loves a good Cohiba that she collects humidors with beau Kyle MacLachlan. “I’ve started getting obsessed with the whole art of cigars—the different kinds, the rolling of the leaves,” she said. “I just think they’re delicious.”

And it’s not only leading ladies chomping at the tips. Sales of luxury cheroots are up 45 percent this year, with one maker, Davidoff of Geneva, reporting that its sales to women have doubled since 1993. And around the country, at restaurants and bars, women-only cigar parties are proliferating. “They’re seeing what fun men are having,” says actor Joe Pantoliano, co-owner of Beverly Hills’ Grand Havana Room, a club for cigar fans, whose members include Schwarzenegger and Ellen Barkin. “Why be left out?”

But not everyone shares that enthusiasm. “No matter how trendy it is, it ain’t safe,” says Dr. Raymond Melrose of the American Cancer Society, citing mouth and larynx cancer as long-term risks. Which may explain why some famous females aren’t getting into the habit. “Yeah, I’m smoking a stogie,” said Sandra Bernhard at last month’s cigar-filled Planet Hollywood opening in Beverly Hills, “and I’m ready to puke.”

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