Identifying Fake Cuban Cigars
Written by Kevin Godbee

Monday, 13 April 2009

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These Partagas Serie D cigars appear the same until you take a close look. Can you spot the fake?


Sure it’s illegal and if these highly skilled cigar makers are caught they know that they’re going to go to prison but that doesn’t stop them working day after day in rough conditions to produce those ‘fake’ cigars. They do it, not because they can’t get work in the government factories, but because they can earn a heck of a lot more income working in the black market cigar industry than they can in the government controlled factories.


Many in the legitimate cigar industry only earn around $17.00 a month - yes that’s right, they earn just $17.00 a month … but if they were out there in the black market they’d be making a whole lot more. And that’s why many of those guys who are turning out the ‘fake’ cigars are working in those back rooms.


Almost all of them have learned their trade in those legitimate factories but the lure of much better money - despite the constant threat of arrest - is too hard to resist. Think about it for a moment and I’m sure that if you were in the same situation you too would have difficulty resisting all that extra money each month.


So they labor day after day turning out around a hundred cigars a day that translates into four boxes each day that sell for somewhere between $25.00 and $30.00 a month. Most of that production seems to be snapped up by tourists who then have to somehow get them out of the country.


While tourists are allowed to take 2 boxes of cigars out of the country the authorities are very careful to check those who are leaving and confiscate any cigars that are not genuine. In fact it seems likely that very few of those ‘fake’ cigars actually make it past the border control. The authorities claim to confiscate somewhere between 1500 and 1700 boxes of illegal cigars every month so if you’re thinking of taking a trip to Cuba be careful where you spend your money.

The threat of imprisonment doesn’t seem to stop the makers and it’s unlikely that the authorities will ever totally eradicate these black markets. There are far too many people who depend on income they derive from the ‘fake’ cigar industry for it to be ever completely shut down and the old management techniques in place in the factories mean that the theft of all that genuine packaging will never be stopped either.


0 # Nice ArticleCory Nickerson 2009-04-13 04:59
Great article. You would think someone working so hard to distribute counterfeit cigars would do a little research and make sure they get the cigar band to match. :D

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0 # INRE: Fakeshavanitascigars-cl 2009-04-14 06:43
It is not true that going to the Habanos SA shops guarantee you are receiving real Cubans. I have seen fakes in those stores also. They are usually sold as individual cigars. The Casa de los Habanos in Tijuana is known to have fake cigars.

It is true you find a lot of fake Cohibas in Cuba, even though they are made with Cuban tobacco, they are not Cohibas. Others to watch for: I have seen LGC Tainos, RyJs, and Montecristos. The less faked of the most popular brands seem to be Cuaba Salomones, and Vegas Robainas.

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+1 # RetailersJS 2009-04-14 14:06
If they are good at faking, what about a fake Habanos SA sticker in the window? I saw a couple places in Playa del Carmen a few years back that I remeber having the SA logo, but I would not have purchased from. With regard to the US, a $100 limit of total product value taken out of Cuba was imposed a while back, but that doesn't matter because it is effectively impossible to get down there. Just order from Hong Kong online...they're real ;-)

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0 # Fake CigarsRon 2009-05-18 07:11
I won't to thank you for opening our eyes to the possibilities of being ripped off for buying cigars in Cuba even if we are buying them from a store in Cuba.
It is good to be aware that these things happen often so if going there we should beware not to buy from the wrong places.

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