In the 1950s, cigarette smoking, was the ultimate leisure time activity. Movie stars to millionaires could be seen lighting up on the big screen and gossip pages of tabloid magazines. Hard working business executives were photographed with their glasses of scotch and several good nicotine filled cigarettes after a long day at work. Average every day Joe and Jane America were depicted lighting up as their official relaxing pastime.

In the 1950s, the Bahamas was reaching for a most coveted international prize, as the most sought after tourist and second home destination in the western region. Introducing cigarette manufacturing seemed to be a natural economic fit. Lighting up a refreshing cigarette was a lifestyle choice; the Bahamas was, after all, in the lifestyle business.

In 1953, as part of the very intent of the Industries Encouragement Act 1951, The Bahamas Tobacco Company Limited, became a formal registered factory.


Light manufacturing industry became a way of offering jobs, to what was then, a significantly growing number of unemployed, uneducated, low wage earning negroes and coloureds, throughout the islands.

Manufacturing became an important objective during the 1940s, during those desperate years of World War II, and well after.

During the war years, under the very high profile governorship of the Duke of Windsor, the plight of thousands of poverty stricken people, in the Bahamas, became an initial focus for the new governor. There were few successes for him in this regard.

Some eight years after the Duke’s tenure, dissatisfaction and political unrest only continued. In 1953, a new political organisation called the Progressive Liberal Party was formed. The Party sought to address the racial, social and economic imbalance in the Bahamas. The Labour movement was taking off as well. Much to the anger of the government, unionisation and labour organisation was being whispered about among the negro labour sectors.

It was also around this time that a number of industries were tabled in government, as an attempt to replace once profitable sponging and sisal industries. Tourism was only providing so many jobs. It still didn’t offer the employment numbers to keep social dissatisfaction at bay. Finding light manufacturing businesses was seen to be the key, to quelling the growing social dissatisfaction within the colony.

One of those proposed manufacturing industries was cigarette manufacturing.

(Official Gazette Bahamas, November 2, 1953)

1952 – The Bahamas Tobacco Company Announces Opening With Plans To Manufacture 250,000 Cigarettes Every 8 Hours

1952 – Bahamian Made Cigarettes For Export Begins Production With A Speciality One Called the “Turtle”

(Miami News, Thursday 18, September 1952)