It seems like the questions about Cuba have been non-stop ever since the President’s trip to the country a few weeks ago and while we do our best to answer every question we’re asked around the shop, we even lose track of the amount of new information regarding Americans and Cuba. Here’s our attempt at a one-stop-shop for everything we know so far to help you better understand the renewed relations and what they mean for you. If we don’t cover something, please email us and we’ll do our best to answer your question.
Is the Embargo lifted? – No, it is still illegal for us to import Cuban cigars and it is still illegal for us to sell them to you.
When will the Embargo be lifted? – We don’t know. Congress can over turn the Embargo any time they’d like and, in fact, the resign it into law every year. The current leadership in the House and Senate both have expressed no desire to lift the Embargo while there is still a totalitarian regime in Cuba but there is a growing contingent of Senators and Congressman who are pushing for the Embargo to be lifted.
Why won’t they really lift the Embargo? – It comes down to voters. Quite frankly many of our fellow citizens still view Cuba as a Cold War nemesis and there are many Cuban-Americans who had to flee the country for various reasons all related to the Castro regime. A bold move like lifting the Embargo could cost a lot of seats in the House and Senate and could even cost a party the presidency.
So how can I get Cuban cigars? – The only way to legally obtain Cuban cigars is by travelling to Cuba. If you do get to travel to Cuba you’re allowed to bring $100 worth of Cuban tobacco back to the U.S. with you.
How do I get there? – While it will likely be easier over the next year or so to get to Cuba, currently you need to have a stated, approved purpose. These include but are not limited to: religious activities, public performances, professional research, and educational activities. It is also worth noting that travel to Cuba currently has to meet a “people-to-people” criteria. This means your visit to Cuba is coordinated with a guide and just about every waking moment in Cuba must be spent with that guide. So while you may be able to visit the cigar factories and historic bars like La Floridita, you’ll likely find little to no time to explore the island personally. We’re likely a long way off from being able to step off a plane and hit the beach but all the major airlines and cruise lines have filed proposals for direct travel to Cuba.
Can I buy Cuban cigars in another country? – You can and you can smoke them there legally now! Believe it or not, there was a law on the books prohibiting Americans from consuming Cuban goods even while they were overseas but that law was recently overturned. You cannot, however, bring any Cuban goods back into the country from where ever you were visiting.
Will Cubans be hard to find when the Embargo is lifted? – Probably. It’s important to remember that Cuban cigars are all Cuban tobacco and the tobacco industry is controlled by the Cuban government whereas cigars coming out of the DR, Nicaragua, and Honduras use a variety of tobacco and are privately owned. Because of this, Cuba is at the mercy of its own crop every year, there is no importing of, say, a Dominican tobacco to have on hand, meaning if there is a bad crop, bad cigars get put out, no matter what. To give you an idea of just how scarce Cuban cigars may be once the Embargo is lifted, two of the larger factories in the Dominican Republic out produce the entire nation of Cuba.
How much will Cubans cost when the Embargo is lifted? – Prices will likely spike because the demand for Cuban cigars in the U.S. will be outrageous. Not only will Cuba have to somehow produce enough cigars to satisfy daily cigar smokers like ourselves but they will need to produce even more to satisfy the demand put on them by non-smokers in this country. The only way they’ll be priced competitively is if Cuba has been stockpiling enough cigars to meet U.S. demand but that seems unlikely.
Will the proposed FDA regulations affect Cubans? – Yes. If the proposed regulations went into effect today, Cubans would likely not be able to be sold on the U.S. market until after an approval process even if the Embargo was lifted because no Cuban cigar has been available on the U.S. market in quite some time.
Will Cuban cigars put other cigars companies out of business? – No. Despite the Cuban government’s lofty dreams of controlling 75% of the U.S. cigar market, most manufacturers from the DR, Nicaragua, and Honduras are looking forward to competing with Cuba on a level playing field. It’d also be a very strange move for current cigar smokers to completely switch over to Cuban cigars. It is worth noting that there will likely be a flurry of lawsuits and some name changes after the Embargo is lifted as well.
What do you guys think about all of this? – It’s an exciting opportunity for us that will come with its headaches until supply and demand stabilize. We love bringing in new cigars and bringing in Cuban cigars will be unique in a way that we’ll likely never experience again.
Are Cuban cigars really the best? – If you think they are, then they are. Cigars are so subjective it is hard to say that cigar x is better than cigar y. That being said, this is why many manufacturers are looking forward competing with Cuba on a level playing field, once Cuban cigars are on the open market there will finally be an opportunity to dispel many myths surrounding Cuban cigars.