Why Are Cuban Cigars Illegal? The Real Story

June 18, 2022 0

You’ve probably heard that the reason Cuban cigars are illegal in the United States is because of their powerful flavor and aroma, but that’s not the case at all. If this were true, why would other countries, like the UK and France, allow them to be sold and enjoyed freely? The real reason behind this law has more to do with Cold War politics than it does with taste and quality, as you’ll see in this article on why are cuban cigars illegal.

What You Should Know About Cuban Cigars

According to US law, it is illegal to smoke Cuban cigars in America (despite public opinion), and it is also illegal for American citizens to have any type of business dealings with Cuba. In other words, if you go to Cuba as a tourist and take a box of Cohibas home with you as a souvenir, Customs will arrest you on your return. Interestingly enough, when Fidel Castro was in power in Cuba, he made it legal for any American citizen to bring up to $100 worth of cigars into his country—but that’s it. He did so because he knew how much Americans love their Cubans, but he didn’t want them opening cigar shops there.

What Laws Were Broken When Cuban Cigars Were Banned

Did you know that when Castro came to power in Cuba, he confiscated all private property owned by Cubans? This included businesses, land and homes. Businesses were nationalized, which is a fancy way of saying that all privately owned businesses became government-owned. When Castro died, his brother Raul took over and he started to slowly introduce capitalism into Cuba. To date, however, many businesses are still government-run or government-owned. How do these laws affect cigar lovers in America today? And why can’t we buy Cuban cigars legally?

Differences Between American-Made and Cuban Cigars

The main difference between American-made cigars and Cuban cigars is that American tobacco manufacturers use bright, flashy wrappers to help advertise their products. Most Cubans don’t bother with advertising; they have a much smaller domestic market and tend to focus on exporting. However, because many countries have trade embargoes against Cuba (justified by claims of human rights violations), they don’t typically export as many goods—including tobacco—as would otherwise be expected.

Other Reasons Why Cuban Cigars Are Illegal in the U.S.

Though it may seem outdated, there are still plenty of reasons why Cuban cigars are illegal in America. While President Obama seems to be easing relations with Cuba, American citizens still aren’t allowed to travel there and bring back their own souvenirs—and one of those souvenirs happens to be a box of fine Cubans. There are several other regulations that make smoking Cuban cigars in America a no-no. Plus, some regulations haven’t changed since they were enacted decades ago—which is surprising considering cigar culture has become trendy (in part) thanks to media attention on gentleman smokers. So what else can you get fined for?

Is There Hope for Legalization?

Despite recent rumors, there is still no glimmer of hope for legalization of Cuban cigars in the United States. Although Americans have been consuming and importing illegal quantities of premium cigars from Cuba for decades, there have never been any plans to legalize them. There has never even been a discussion on making them legal. Why not? It all comes down to money and politics; Big Tobacco just can’t compete with Havana’s finest tobacco. It’s not that anyone dislikes Cubans—or other embargoed cigars like Nicaraguan or Dominican; it’s just that you can get much better products for about half of what you would pay for a Cohiba Siglo VI at your local cigar shop.

Post Author

Ashmawi Sami

Ashmawi Sami has a Bachelor degree in Travel and Tourism Management from the University of Minnesota. He has his own travel vlogging channel. Besides being a fantastic yoga instructor he has travelled to 9 countries and planning his next trip soon. As the father of 3 dogs, he is well-trained in parenting, crowd control, and crisis situations.


Gillian is a freelance blogger, student, and full-time traveler. Each day she spends her time exploring something exciting to help people find the information they need while travelling to a new destination. Whether it be the place to enjoy holidays, or a spot to throw a party or hidden gems that you must visit in the city.





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