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The bar’s owners are on the verge of signing the first woman to the exclusive $25,000-a-year club, which gathers in a private room behind a secret door.

That woman would be Martha Hoover, owner of a local food empire of nine restaurants that include Café Patachou eateries, Napolese pizzerias and Petit Chou bistros. She isn’t a dedicated cigar smoker, but her husband is.

“I fully support it,” she said, adding that at her daughter’s 2012 wedding reception at the Oldfields-Lilly House and Gardens, she had a bourbon, bacon and cigar bar. “What Blend is doing is amazing.”

Maybe if other women see that there is a female club member, Blend owner Corey Johnston surmises, they won’t see it as taboo.

“Women do smoke cigars,” he said. “They really enjoy them.”

Lowder, one of the women from Cumberland, went so far as to call smoking a cigar “empowering.”

“Living as a woman in a man’s world,” she said.

Nobody has to tell Nick Blum that. The owner of BlumLux, a luxury jewelry boutique in Broad Ripple, boasts personalized service that comes with a complimentary cocktail and, if the client wants, a cigar.

Have women been accepting that offer? Yes.

Proof came recently, when the boutique had its open house. Women, such as Kristina Skeens and Jenifer Snider, lit right up. They hung out with their male cigar-smoking counterparts and looked just as natural puffing away.

The trend doesn’t come without potential dangers. Cigar smokers are at higher risk of facing the same medical issues that plague cigarette smokers - such as lung, mouth and throat cancer, strokes and heart problems.

The CDC points out that the cigars targeted at women may be even more threatening, because the flavors are a powerful mask.

“Fruit and candy-like flavors disguise the taste of the tobacco,” it recently said in a study that went on to say that makes the cigars seems fun and harmless.

Daniel McQuiston, a marketing professor at Butler University, is not surprised that cigar manufacturers are courting female customers.

“A lot of companies in the so-called masculine marketing space - professional sports motorcycles, liquors, cigars - are discovering ‘surprise, surprise’ that women are a very huge part of their market,” he said. “The idea is how do we make our products more feminine friendly?”

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