Tighter Controls on Cigars from Cuba
Written by Kevin Godbee

Friday, 11 December 2009

User Rating: / 3

tobacco legislation

The government sets the prices and for a box of Cohiba, Monte Cristo or Romeo y Julieta you can pay between $100 and $450 depending on the brand. If you find them on the black market you can pay as little as $25 to $40 a box and finding them on the black market is quite easy because, with around two million tourists a year heading for Cuba, the black market flourishes and will come to you.

Obviously the more people who buy on the black market the more pain is felt by the official outlets and of course that means that the Cuban government wants to cut out that black market trade. Officially Cuba sold $390 million worth of cigars last year so you can see that there is big money at stake here.


There are severe penalties that include imprisonment for anywhere up to 10 years for anyone who is convicted of making and selling black market cigars. However those penalties do nothing to stop the black market and there are many highly skilled cigar rollers working out of backrooms right across Cuba.

Apart from the penalties for Cuban nationals there are also checks by the Cuban customs authorities on residents and tourists as they leave the country. Tourists have always been allowed to take cigars out of the country without being required to show any receipts to prove that they were purchased from the legal outlets.  The limit has been 50 cigars either loose or in boxes and that has been enforced quite strongly but the Government knows that a lot of black market cigars are still leaving the country.

Production of those black market cigars is very sophisticated and cigar bands and other identifying marks are often supplied to black market cigar makers by employees of the Government approved factories so it’s hard for the border authorities to spot a black market cigar and that’s one of the main reasons that the Government has chosen to limit the number of cigars a tourist can take out of the country without producing a receipt. 

However from October 10 the rules governing the cigars that a tourist can take out of the country will become tougher. While the number of cigars we can take out of Cuba remains unchanged the chance to take out loose cigars has been dropped entirely. From October 10 no one will be allowed to take loose cigars out of the country.



0 # Ji Kim 2009-12-10 14:44
I don't know of any informed cigar smoker that would feel compelled to purchase black market cigars in Cuba. If you spend enough time in the Puff forums, you'll learn quickly that these 'black market' I'll refer to as fake from this point forward lack in quality of construction and tobacco. Simply you're not getting the same quality cigars produced in the factories.

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0 # ihup 2009-12-12 04:20
I am very surprised by this article, where it is giving the reader the impression that you can get the same cigar on the black market as you can in official stores (La Casa Del, Habanos), for a fraction of the price. I have been to Cuba and seen, bought and smoked both. Yes, the black market cigars are a fraction of the price, and in some cases, very hard to see the difference in their appearance. But as soon as you smoke the black market cigar, you know, (if you ever smoked the authentic Cuban's), that this is garbage. Yes, the tobacco is grown on the same island, but the processes involving curing, fermenting and aging, are not followed for the tobacco destined for the black market. I tell my friends, who are not smokers, when comparing the authentic Cuban cigars to those from the black market, is like comparing a fine French or Italian wine, to a wine that is made from concentrated grape juice and water.

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