In September of 1988, Hurricane Mitch hit Jamaica, destroying much of the land. A devasting natural disaster, the hurricane nearly whiped out Jamaica’s entire cigar industry, with the demolition of Royal Jamaican Cigars’ land. Royal Jamaican Cigars, the only cigar with Jamaican tobacco sold in the United States, lost 30 to 40 acres of tobacco during the hurricane. After the hurricane hit, it was uncertain as to whether or not the tobacco industry would continue to be a profitable resource for Jamaica’s economy. For over ten years following the devastating hurricane, people were still unsure whether cigar tobacco would grow back.
However, in 1999, an eight-foot tall tobacco plant was found sprouting from the soil in May Pen, Jamaica, marking the beginning of Jamaica’s industry comeback. Although following the hurricane people were skeptical of Jamaica’s return to the tobacco industry, twenty years later its production is in full force. Today, Jamaica is the fourth largest producer of premium cigars in the United States, alongside Cuba, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic.