If there is one thing Americans should thank Obama for, especially cigar lovers, is for the role he played in thawing a 56-year-old cold relationship between the U.S and Cuba.
March 14, 1958. that was the day the United States of America first imposed an embargo on Cuba. It was an arms embargo. Four years later, on February 3, 1962, John F. Kennedy signed Proclamation 3447, banning all U.S trade with Cuba.
The birthplace of the cigar had been shut down. No more prime quality cigars for the American smoker who loves them so much. Yes, Americans love cigars and the numbers tell – 300 million premium cigars are smoked in the U.S annually. In dollars, the market value of the cigar industry in the U.S in 2017 was a staggering $120 billion. So yes, Americans love cigars. And they love the Cuban cigar the most.
Sadly it’s not easily available.
Blessing in Disguise – How the Cuban Cigar Embargo Empowered Other Nations
With Cuban cigars under embargo, and the demand for cigars rising, especially in the U.S, the American market had to look elsewhere. Salvation was not far – Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and a few others stepped up to the plate. The Cuban cigar had been burnt by the embargo, but for these other countries, it was a blessing in disguise.
That’s the thing about life, it’s never always fair. One man’s loss is always another man’s gain.
But a question still begs to be asked – if the embargo is lifted, will the Cuban cigar regain its throne?
Perhaps a visit to the past might help answer that question.
Pre -Embargo Cuban Cigars – Are They Really All That?
To answer that, I’ll send you to a cigar auction. A quick look at how much pre-embargo Cuban cigars are going for will not only bring your jaw to the floor, but will give you an idea.
Pre-embargo Cuban cigars are valuable today for 2 main reasons:
1. After 66+ of mellowing and maturing, these cigars are more than premium. They can only be compared to a fine vintage port.
2. Cuban cigars are the best in the world. True other cigar manufacturers in other countries are doing a splendid job, but nothing beats a Cuban cigar.
Before the embargo Cuban cigars ruled. When the embargo lifts, well, let’s wait and see. But I have I hunch Cuban cigars will experience a huge surge in sales when they are legalized. Not only because of the quality, but the embargo has created a 56 year-long buzz around the Cuban cigars. A huge pre-launch buzz that the world is keenly watching.
That being said, as great as pre-embargo Cuban cigars were, and are, I still believe the other countries manufacturing Cuban cigars will still have their fair share of the market. Great flavors that people have come to love, won’t just disappear overnight because Cuban cigars will be back in the mainstream markets.
Besides, Cuba alone can’t satisfy the demand for cigars, not even the American market alone. It takes time to grow tobacco and to transform it into a fine Cohiba.
So When Will Cuban Cigars Be Legal?
Well, it’s hard to say. Politics is never straightforward. Things can change overnight in politics, and they certainly can drag on as we have seen with the Cuban embargo.
But it seems there is an orange cigar-like glow at the end of the tunnel.
In January of 2015, the U.S government allowed Americans to come in with $100 worth of cigars, as long as they travel legally to Cuba. That’s a great start, insignificant as it may seem.
That start was given a jolting scare, however, when President Trump announced that his administration was going to reverse the steps the previous government had taken in mending the bridges between the U.S and Cuba. For Cuban cigar aficionados, this seemed to be another Cuban cigars embargo all over again.
Thankfully though, bringing in your $100 worth of rum and cigars is still allowed. For how long, no one can tell. But perhaps one day, we will wake up to a new world with no embargos. And the selling of Cuban cigars will be legalized.
Headline: Cuban Cigars Legal
I know that is a day many cigar aficionados are waiting for with bated breath. But truth be told, whether that day ever comes or not, we will still continue enjoying the wide variety of cigars that are legal. Happy smoking.