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First Posted: Apr 15, 2013
Dec 5, 2014

Cuban Cigars

  
  

  

Know that the three most important items to go together in Cuba are: Cuban cigars, Cuban rum and Cuban coffee. Relax and enjoy!

Cuban cigars are rolled from tobacco leaves found throughout the country of Cuba. The filler, binder, and wrapper may come from different portions of the island. All cigar production in Cuba is controlled by the Cuban government, and each brand may be rolled in several different factories in Cuba. Cuban cigar rollers or "torcedores" are claimed by cigar experts to be the most skilled rollers in the world. Torcedores are highly respected in Cuban society and culture and travel worldwide displaying their art of hand rolling cigars.

Habanos SA and Cubatabaco between them do all the work relating to Cuban cigars, including manufacture, quality control, promotion and distribution, and export. Cuba produces both handmade and machine made cigars. All boxes and labels are marked Hecho en Cuba (made in Cuba). Machine-bunched cigars finished by hand add Hecho a mano, while fully handmade cigars say Totalmente a mano in script text, though not all Cuban cigars will include this statement. Because of the perceived status of Cuban cigars, counterfeits are somewhat commonplace.

Despite American trade sanctions against Cuban products, cigars remain one of the country's leading exports. The country exported 77 million cigars in 1991, 67 million in 1992, and 57 million in 1993, the decline attributed to a loss of much of the wrapper crop in a hurricane.

United States Embargo Against Cuba

According to Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, "A smoke in times of rest is a great companion to the solitary soldier."

On February 7, 1962, United States President John F. Kennedy imposed a trade embargo on Cuba to sanction Fidel Castro's communist government. According to Pierre Salinger, then Kennedy's press secretary, the president ordered him on the evening of February 6 to obtain 1,200 H. Upmann brand petit corona Cuban cigars; upon Salinger's arrival with the cigars the following morning, Kennedy signed the executive order which put the embargo into effect. Richard Goodwin, a White House assistant to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, revealed in a 2000 New York Times article that in early 1962 JFK told him, "We tried to exempt cigars, but the cigar manufacturers in Tampa objected."

The embargo prohibited US residents from legally purchasing Cuban cigars and American cigar manufacturers from importing Cuban tobacco. As a result, Cuba was deprived of its major customer for tobacco and American cigar manufacturers either had to find an alternative source of tobacco or go out of business.

In the United States, authentic Cuban-made cigars are seen as "forbidden fruit" for Americans to purchase. Upon the expropriation of private property in Cuba, many former Cuban cigar manufacturers moved to other countries (primarily the Dominican Republic) to continue production. The Dominican Republic's production of tobacco grew significantly as a result. After reallocation, most Cuban manufacturers continued to use their known company name, seed, and harvesting technique while Cubatabaco, Cuba's state tobacco monopoly after the Revolution, independently continued production of cigars using the former private company names. As a result, cigar name brands like Romeo y Julieta, La Gloria Cubana, Montecristo among others, exist in both Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Honduras and Nicaragua are also mass manufacturers of cigars. Some Cuban refugees make cigars in the U.S. and advertise them as "Cuban" cigars, using the argument that the cigars are made by Cubans.

It remains illegal for US residents to purchase or import Cuban cigars regardless of where they are in the world, although they are readily available across the northern border in Canada and the southern border in Mexico. While Cuban cigars are smuggled into the USA and sold at high prices, counterfeiting is rife; it has been said that 95% of Cuban cigars sold in the USA are counterfeit. Although Cuban cigars cannot legally be imported into the USA, the advent of the Internet has made it much easier for people in the United States to purchase cigars online from other countries, especially when shipped without bands. Cuban cigars are openly advertised in some European tourist regions, catering to the American market, even though it is illegal to advertise tobacco in most European regions.


How to Smoke a Cigar

For More Information:

Scotsdale Cigar Club
How to Smoke A Cigar

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