Tobacco leaves wrapped in a palm leaf; this is what you would have smoked if you were around when the first cigars were invented. Centuries later, torcedors have perfected the art of cigar manufacturing. But there is one cigar that rules king over the others—the Cuban Cigar—and people want to know, is it now or will it ever be legal in Florida?
Cuban cigars are illegal in Florida, and the rest of the United States, because of a trade embargo banning the import of Cuban goods. It was lifted under the Obama administration before being reinstated in 2020.
What are Cuban Cigars?
Cuban cigars are (you guessed it) cigars made and manufactured in Cuba using tobacco grown in a certain location of the Caribbean Island. They are highly sought after due to the unique experience that comes with smoking a Cuban cigar. While other cigars offer a blend of tobacco, these premium cigars have only one type of tobacco. They are typically hand-rolled and supply rich, authentic smoke.
How Much Do Cuban Cigars Cost?
The price of Cuban cigars varies depending on the type of cigar you are buying and where you buy it. However, Cuban cigars can cost anywhere from a few dollars apiece to hundreds of dollars each, with some boxes reaching prices over $30,000 a box. However, prices are at their lowest when the cigar is purchased in Cuba. Just remember that it is illegal to purchase and import Cuban cigars back into the United States.
Are Cuban Cigars Illegal in the United States?
Although the legal status of the famed Cuban cigar has changed several times over the past decade, Cuban cigars are currently illegal in the United States. This is due to a trade embargo that was installed by John F. Kennedy in February 1962 as an attempt to counter the communist regime of Fidel Castro. The strict restrictions were relaxed under the Obama administration but were once again installed in 2022 when the Trump administration once again banned the import of Cuban goods.
Why Are Cuban Cigars Illegal in the United States?
The simple answer is that Cuban cigars are illegal in the United States for political reasons. However, the full answer requires a bit of a history lesson that involves the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis before eventually leading to Kennedy increasing the embargo already in place and broadening it to ban all Cuban-originated goods.
There are six primary statutes enforcing the trade embargo with Cuba:
- 1917 Trading with the Enemy Act – which banned arms trading
- 1961 Foreign Assistance Act – which sought to maintain the ban unless they moved towards democratization
- 1963 Cuban Assets Control Regulations – which sought to enforce the domestic embargo
- 1992 Cuban Democracy Act – sanctions that were geared towards a transition to democracy
- 1996 Helms-Burton Act – which was an extension of the embargo to include countries that traded with Cuba
- 2000 Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act
In 2014, the Obama administration eased retractions slightly, allowing United States citizens to import up to $100 worth of Cuban cigars. In 2016, the monetary limit was removed, and citizens could bring back as many Cuban cigars as they wanted. However, anything over $2,500 had to be declared.
This did not last long, however, and in 2020, the Trump administration once again made it illegal to import Cuban goods into the United States; making it currently illegal to buy a Cuban cigar in the US. However, that does not stop people from trying.
What Happens If You Are Caught with Cuban Cigars?
As of September 24, 2020, travelers can no longer bring alcohol or tobacco products from Cuba back into the United States with them. They can, however, legally buy these products in Cuba for personal consumption so long as they are consumed outside of the United States.
If you are thinking about smuggling Cuban cigars into the country, you might want to think again. The punishment for this is quite hearty, ranging from confiscation of the item to ten years in prison. While you will likely not end up in jail for one cigar, you could face a fine of up to $25,000 per item found on your person.
Can I Buy Cuban Cigars Online?
Although the restrictions on Cuban goods have weaved back and forth over the years, purchasing Cuban cigars online has remained illegal and it is currently still illegal to buy or sell Cuban cigars over the internet if you live in the United States. But that has not stopped people from trying to take advantage of the confusion surrounding the trade embargo.
For example, there are many websites that claim they are able to sell and ship Cuban cigars from other countries to the United States. Unfortunately, the broadening of the embargo made this illegal as well. Do not be fooled by these websites, as most of them are knowingly engaged in illegal activity and are probably selling counterfeit cigars.
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