Why are Cuban cigars illegal in the United States?
Cuban cigars are illegal in the United States because of the trade embargo between Cuba and the United States.
We’ll cover everything concerning the trade embargo in this brief guide.
Why Are Cuban Cigars Illegal?
Cuban cigars laws came into place when they were banned when the Kennedy administration placed a trade embargo on Cuba in response to the communist government’s seizure of American-owned property or due to their poor quality.
Since then, American cigar smokers have been forced to purchase their cigars from other countries, such as the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.
The Trade Embargo
There’s much debate surrounding the trade embargo placed on Cuba and whether or not it’s legal.
Many people believe that the embargo is illegal because it doesn’t allow Cuban citizens to trade with other countries freely.
The main reason for the embargo is because of the communist regime that’s in control of the country.
The United States has placed a trade embargo on Cuba since 1960, and it has been slowly tightened over the years.
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In 1996, the Helms-Burton Act was passed, which made it illegal for any foreign company to do business with Cuba if they used property that had been expropriated by the Cuban government after the Revolution.
This act further strengthened the embargo and made it more difficult for Cuban citizens to trade with other countries.
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U.S. Tobacco Industry
In addition, the U.S. tobacco industry is heavily invested in the production of cigars in other countries, such as the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.
Allowing Cuban cigars into the country would undercut the profits of these companies.
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President Trump’s Overturning
Can you buy Cuban cigars in the US now?
President Barack Obama worked with Cuba during his presidency, and in 2016 one of his changes was allowing Americans to bring back Cuban rum and cigars into the U.S.
The Obama Administration allowed Americans to bring up to $100 of Cuban cigars or rum into the United States.
However, this allowance did not last after Obama’s presidency was over.
After President Donald Trump took office, he overturned Obama’s allowance.
Since Trump’s decision in 2020, Americans are again banned from bringing both Cuban rum and cigars into the country.
Regardless of the ban on Cuban cigars, there are still many types of cigars that Americans can enjoy.
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What Countries Are Cuban Cigars Legal in?
More than 150 countries across the globe sell Cuban cigars legally. One of the best places to buy real Cuban cigars is the United Kingdom.
The UK ensures they’re not counterfeit. However, they are also expensive due to the UK’s taxation.
There are definitely many fake cigars all over the world, and traveling Americans get duped all the time.
Want to make sure that’s not you? The video below reviews how to tell a real Cuban from a fake one.
Spain also gets some of the best authentic Cuban cigars due to their close ties with Cuba.
You can also purchase authentic Cubans in duty-free shops across the globe (except, of course, in the United States).
Finally, France is close behind Spain as a large purchaser of Cubans. They are also sold outside of Europe in the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, and Pakistan.
So, if you’re traveling across the globe, keep an eye out for a chance to smoke a real Cuban cigar.
Read our related article, Why Are Cuban Cigars the Best? to see why these cigars are so coveted.
The Bottom Line
While there are many theories about why Cuban cigars are illegal, the most likely reason is that the embargo is simply a way for the U.S. to exert political pressure on the Cuban government.
However, whatever the reason for the ban, it has not stopped cigar aficionados from finding ways to enjoy these coveted smokes.