For What Reason Are Cuban Cigars Still Banned in the United States in 2023?

Home » What Makes Cuban Cigars Illegal in the U.S. S The legendary Cuban cigar In the world of cigar lovers, there is nothing more fabled than a rare and collectible cigar. Even just saying the words conjures up images of sipping cocktails with a mahogany rim while lounging on

Home » What Makes Cuban Cigars Illegal in the U.S. S

SBFM - Why are Cuban cigars Illegal?

The legendary Cuban cigar In the world of cigar lovers, there is nothing more fabled than a rare and collectible cigar.

Even just saying the words conjures up images of sipping cocktails with a mahogany rim while lounging on a Havana beach in a guayabera and fedora.

The legendary Cuban cigar has a fascinating and complicated history with the United States, and rightfully earns the acclaim for which it is known.

So What Makes Cuban Cigars Banned in the United States

The United States has a strict trade embargo against any products containing Cuban goods, including cigars. This embargo was first enacted in February 1962 by President John F. Kennedy as a means of countering the communist regime of Fidel Castro in Cuba.

At one time, being busted for trying to smuggle a Cuban cigar into the U.S. S In this case, failing to clear customs could have resulted in a fine of up to ,000.

Part of the Cuban cigar's allure and history comes from the country's longstanding ban on selling them. Plain and simple, people want things they aren't allowed to have.

Read on to learn why relations between Cuba and the United States are so tense. S

The Havana Revolution and the Ascension of Fidel Castro

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, known as "El Caballo" to the Cuban people, is an integral part of the story of Cuban cigars. Castro, a committed Marxist-Leninist, worked to advance socialism and Marxism in Cuba.

As Castro saw it, Cuban politicians had ceded too much power to the imperialist United States. Because of this, in 1953 Castro led a failed assault on Moncada Barracks, in an attempt to overthrow the Cuban government and President Fulgencio Batista.  

On February 16, 1959, Fidel Castro successfully took control of Cuba and was sworn in as the country's new prime minister. That was the starting point for his consolidation of power and his confiscation of property and businesses from wealthy Cubans and foreigners.

A Greater Chasm Separates Us

In 1959, after becoming prime minister, Castro embarked on a so-called "charm-offensive" in the United States. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the president By declining to meet with Castro, Eisenhower only increased the Cuban leader's contempt for the United States.

Instead of meeting with Castro himself, Eisenhower dispatched Vice President Richard Nixon. Rumor has it that Fidel Castro disliked Nixon from the moment he laid eyes on him. Maybe The crowd chanted, "Game peeps game" Who knows

The subsequent event was the infamous "Bay of Pigs Invasion." As a show of force, they attempted to establish a beachhead on the Cuban coast by landing a ship there. This failed attempt further exacerbated tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union over Cuba during the Cold War.

Tense relations between the United States and the Soviet Union erupted during the icy height of the Cold War. S which began in October 1962 with the start of the "Cuban Missile Crisis" and Cuba American and Soviet leaders were locked in a tense standoff for 13 days during the Missile Crisis.

When the US found out that U S S R had deployed nuclear-capable missiles to Cuba Many people consider this war to be the time when nuclear war was most likely to break out.

JFK smoking a cigar

And yes, even during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, President John F. Kennedy enjoyed a fine Cuban cigar.

The U S Prohibition on Commercial Transactions with Cuba

Cuba's growing ties to the Soviet Union, the United States' most formidable geopolitical foe, fueled a growing anti-communist push that began during the Eisenhower administration and was ratcheted up during the Kennedy administration.

By Executive Order, President John F. Kennedy Kennedy toughened the embargo's measures by expanding its scope. This included a ban on anything with a Cuban origin, even if it was made or built somewhere else.

Intriguingly, however, before issuing the EO, he had ordered Pierre Salinger, one of his officials, to travel to Cuba and bring back a thousand H. Upmann cigars. His Director of Public Relations went above and beyond and returned with 1200 of the in-demand item that will soon be extinct.

Kennedy's announcement of the new restriction making Cuban cigars illegal contraband came mere moments after Salinger's return.

Since 2018, six primary statutes have strictly enforced the trade embargo with Cuba:

  • In 1917, Congress passed the Trading with the Enemy Act, which outlawed the transaction of arms with the enemy.
  • United States Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (continuing the ban unless progress is made toward democracy).
  • Laws enacted in the United States in 1963 to enforce the embargo against Cuba.
  • Sanctions aimed at a nonviolent democratic transition in Cuba were enacted in 1992 under the Cuban Democracy Act.
  • Cuba trade embargo expansion legislation signed into law by Senators John McCain and Dan Coats in 1996 (commonly known as the Helms-Burton Act).
  • Act to Improve Exports and Reduce Sanctions on Foreign Trade

How to Kill Castro with a Poison Cigar and 637 Other Strategies

Fidel castro cigar aficionado

In spite of his lack of smoking, Fidel has always had a deep respect for the cigar tradition.

Castro was famously fond of cigars. Being in Cuba, he was also in the land of plenty. In the 1960s, the CIA secretly attempted to overthrow the Cuban government. Operation Mongoose was a seriously cool code name. James Bond would be green with envy.

According to urban legend, the plot involved poisoning a cigar with botulinum toxin and giving it to Castro to smoke. However, it was never delivered to Fidel's lips.

The Americans made a ridiculous attempt to eliminate "El Caballo" by blowing up a cigar. This is something that would make Bugs Bunny happy. There were also the tubercle bacilli on his diving suit and the booby trap conch at the ocean floor. You just can't make this stuff up, man.

After Fidel Castro's death, many people hoped that the embargo would be lifted.

Trade Restrictions Are Relaxed By The Obama Administration.

American citizens were permitted to bring $100 worth of Cuban cigars into the country despite the trade embargo. The ban on importing Cuban cigars into the United States was lifted in 2014. S was helped along by Barack Obama's administration

In 2016, US Customs lifted their previous $100 limit, allowing passengers to bring in any amount they wished. There was a catch, though.

Under the rules in place, businesses that bring back Cuban goods from the United States must file a formal declaration for any shipment valued at more than $2500.


You did not want to look like you were about to jump out of an Uber and start selling "Cubanos" in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, right? You needed to avoid spending more than $2,500 total, however.

You could only get cigars from small businesses in Cuba. Previously, I mentioned that the Cuban government controls every aspect of the country's cigar production. You can now consider yourself "official" Which means you're bringing through U S Possible suspicions at Customs

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Trump Reinforces Trade Sanctions

Trump's administration has reversed the previous administration's loosening of regulations. By 2020, U.S. citizens returning from Cuba or any other country with free trade relations with Cuba (such as Mexico, Canada, or the United Kingdom) will no longer be allowed to bring in Cuban tobacco, Cuban cigars, or Cuban rum.

The United States Department of State published the "Cuba Prohibited Accommodations List" in 2020, which details the names and locations of hotels in Cuba where citizens of the United States are not permitted to stay. S It is now illegal for citizens to engage in commercial activity, such as making a hotel reservation.

To quote the new rules, "no person subject to U. S No person subject to U.S. jurisdiction may stay at, pay for the stay of, or make a reservation for another person to stay at any property in Cuba designated by the Secretary of State as being owned or controlled by the Cuban government. "[or] an individual who is a prohibited official of the Government of Cuba"

With this, over 400 hotels and other lodging properties are now effectively off-limits to U. S tourists, as the Cuban government owns and operates all of the island's major hotels.  

We can't avoid breaking the embargo on Cuba. S travelers to seek out alternative forms of lodging, such as those listed on websites like Airbnb and VRBO. Therefore, rather than 2022, it seems more like February 1962.

From service providers to globetrotters, everyone has something to say about this. U.S. citizens with a penchant for Cuban cigars will be discouraged from making the trip to the country due to the new rules that prevent them from attending events like the Habanos Festival and the Havana Jazz Festival.  

Cohiba Cuban Cigars

The famous "Cubano" Cohiba cigars from Cuba.

Cigars from Cuba, including Cohiba, among others

Cigars are Cuba's most valuable export by a long shot. Cohiba, arguably the most well-known cigar brand, began as a small, privately-produced brand. Cohiba was originally intended to provide Fidel Castro and his cronies with the high-quality cigars (or "stogies") and Cuban tobacco that are now highly sought after.

As cigars became a popular gift for diplomats, they developed a cult following. This means the government has always controlled the cigar industry.

Cohiba's commercial sales of cigars started in 1982. Some of the world's most renowned cigar experts have given the cigars' higher-end varieties their highest possible ratings.

Consistent with the trend of ongoing friction, Cohiba has been engaged in a patent dispute with the identically named US manufacturer for decades.

Besides these, the following are also among the most popular Cuban cigars:

  • As seen in Romeo and Juliet
  • Montecristo, Bolivar
  • Partagas
  • the aforementioned H. Upmann, and

Predictions for the U.S. Market for Cuban Cigars S

Cuban cigars may not have a bright future in the United States. Even those that make it to the US are not guaranteed to be safe. Reportedly, 95% of Cuban cigars sold in the United States are fake.

If you're thinking about trying to pull a "slick," you should know that it's still illegal to buy Cuban cigars, Cuban tobacco, or Cuban rum (or anything else of Cuban origin) from a mail-order or online store.

In 2008, 61% of Americans said they "should" have better relations with Cuba, according to a survey by USA Today.

But there is less and less enthusiasm among Cuban Americans to reestablish ties to the "motherland." Having spent the past two years in the Magic City, I can attest to the veracity of this claim. Neither Castro nor the communist regime enjoys widespread support in South Florida.

Re-engagement with Cuba is advocated by groups like Engage Cuba. Accordingly, the campaign to fully legalize the world's most popular cigars in the United States is far from over. S

For the time being, cigar enthusiasts, please continue stocking up on the precious "sticks."

- Jack

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