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Old 12-08-2012, 12:09 PM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Cuban Cigar Illegality

So I am watching some stupid Syfy channel movie and one guy comments that it is illegal for US citizens to smoke Cuban cigars anywhere in the world so they better smoke up. So, if you leave Cuban cigar ashes in an ashtray in your house [but the stub is nowhere to be found] can they actually test the ash and prove it is a contraband Cuban cigar, and what can they do to you?

No, I don't need answer fast.
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  #2  
Old 12-08-2012, 12:14 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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It is illegal to buy Cuban cigars, but I don't believe it is illegal to accept one as a gift.

Link. Warning: PDF.
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  #3  
Old 12-08-2012, 04:37 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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I believe it is still legal to own and smoke Cuban cigars--so long as they were bought before the date of the revolution, which was, IIRC, Jan 1, 1959. Or maybe if they were bought before the boycott whenever that was.
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Old 12-08-2012, 04:44 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
I believe it is still legal to own and smoke Cuban cigars--so long as they were bought before the date of the revolution, which was, IIRC, Jan 1, 1959. Or maybe if they were bought before the boycott whenever that was.
I bought some Cubans from a shop in New York, around 1980. They had kept them in a humidor since the boycott. They were pretty dry. Cuban cigars seem to be available if one is looking. I doubt tracking down and prosecuting offenders is a high priority for the government.
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Old 12-08-2012, 04:45 PM
DataX DataX is offline
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I am pretty sure it is illegal to own them. It looks to me like they are even counting it if you buy and/or use them outside the US.

I have - shall we say - very close knowledge as to what happens when you bring them back in the US. They ended up checking all of this persons luggage, checked the computer, and made him break the cigars in half over a trash can. They were nice enough to let him keep the box & tubes (even though I think this too was illegal). No fines, or paperwork, or even a body cavity search.
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Old 12-08-2012, 04:47 PM
DataX DataX is offline
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Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
I believe it is still legal to own and smoke Cuban cigars--so long as they were bought before the date of the revolution, which was, IIRC, Jan 1, 1959. Or maybe if they were bought before the boycott whenever that was.
Yes I believe this is true - there is a story that Kennedy had someone go out and buy a few boxes - right before he signed the law/order.
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  #7  
Old 12-08-2012, 06:56 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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IIRC, it's not just Cuban cigars-- the US government is trying to prevent us from spending money that ends up in the hands of the Cuban government. Now, it's possible to get permission to travel to Cuba, so I presume there are strict rules about what you can and cannot do with your money once you are there.

I was going to buy some the last time I was in Australia, but they were just too expensive. I'll stick with the Dominicans.

Last edited by John Mace; 12-08-2012 at 06:57 PM..
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  #8  
Old 12-08-2012, 08:04 PM
Ravenman Ravenman is offline
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Between approximately 1994 and 2004, it was possible to import Cuban cigars legally into the United States. One must have had a license to travel to Cuba for restricted reasons (like humanitarian or academic exchanges, for example). If one traveled to Cuba on a government-issued license, one could import a limited amount of cigars for personal use. Sale or trade of those cigars to others in the US was still prohibited. I'm not sure there is a prohibition on possession of Cuban cigars, I believe the main issue is that there's almost no way to legally gain possession.

Cite: http://www.treasury.gov/resource-cen...ts/ccigar2.pdf
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  #9  
Old 12-08-2012, 09:31 PM
electronbee electronbee is offline
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So, if you leave Cuban cigar ashes in an ashtray in your house [but the stub is nowhere to be found] can they actually test the ash and prove it is a contraband Cuban cigar, and what can they do to you?
They could take the ash sample and do gas chromatography. But, they would need a current database of Cuban tobacco signatures to compare it to, to be sure. Also, it is known that a lot of the Cuban tobacco plants and/or seeds were taken to other countries, like the Domincan Republic, etc. So, how would two tobacco plants from the same parent strain from 50 years ago in Cuba compare to the two, Cuban and DR, plants compare today? We are assuming zero genetic variation in the past 50 years.

Also, a stub would still mean nothing unless the band was left on. You could, in theory, go to Canada with a box of Cohibas from the DR. Then, once in Canada buy a box of Cubans and switch the bands and boxes. Then, come back into the US with the re-banded and re-boxed Cuban-Cohibas and they would not know.
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Old 12-08-2012, 09:52 PM
typoink typoink is offline
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Originally Posted by electronbee View Post
Also, a stub would still mean nothing unless the band was left on. You could, in theory, go to Canada with a box of Cohibas from the DR. Then, once in Canada buy a box of Cubans and switch the bands and boxes. Then, come back into the US with the re-banded and re-boxed Cuban-Cohibas and they would not know.
I think the OP might have also been assuming that the stub itself would be easier to test than the ash.
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  #11  
Old 12-09-2012, 12:05 AM
Spoons Spoons is offline
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To the best of my knowledge, American law prevents American citizens from purchasing Cuban products anywhere in the world. But practically speaking, enforcement of this law is impossible. US agencies, such as the FBI, ATF, and Treasury, do not have jurisdiction in foreign countries, unless the foreign country allows them to. And usually, it doesn't.

The purchase of Cuban products in a third country is a small thing and not really worthy of any official's attention, so unless the American citizen purchases them in a third country and attempts to import them to the US, there will generally be no trouble. Certainly, my American business associates who purchase and consume Cuban cigars here in Canada have not run into any problems when they return home. Of course, they're not taking any Cuban cigars back to the US, so no American official is any the wiser.

As for the OP, I'm sure that chemical tests would somehow provide a link between Cuba and cigar ash. But as I said, it's a small thing. I doubt very much that federal officials would raid a home in (say), Omaha, Nebraska; just because the owner has been seen smoking a cigar that might be Cuban. I'm sure such officials have better things to do.

And overall, as a cigar smoker (and as a Canadian, I've got many legally-purchased Cuban cigars in my humidor), I'll suggest to the OP that once the cigar is done, you flush it. Not for any legal reasons, but because the stub and ashes really start to stink within a short while.
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  #12  
Old 12-09-2012, 02:31 AM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Originally Posted by Spoons View Post
To the best of my knowledge, American law prevents American citizens from purchasing Cuban products anywhere in the world. But practically speaking, enforcement of this law is impossible. US agencies, such as the FBI, ATF, and Treasury, do not have jurisdiction in foreign countries, unless the foreign country allows them to. And usually, it doesn't.

The purchase of Cuban products in a third country is a small thing and not really worthy of any official's attention, so unless the American citizen purchases them in a third country and attempts to import them to the US, there will generally be no trouble. Certainly, my American business associates who purchase and consume Cuban cigars here in Canada have not run into any problems when they return home. Of course, they're not taking any Cuban cigars back to the US, so no American official is any the wiser.

As for the OP, I'm sure that chemical tests would somehow provide a link between Cuba and cigar ash. But as I said, it's a small thing. I doubt very much that federal officials would raid a home in (say), Omaha, Nebraska; just because the owner has been seen smoking a cigar that might be Cuban. I'm sure such officials have better things to do.

And overall, as a cigar smoker (and as a Canadian, I've got many legally-purchased Cuban cigars in my humidor), I'll suggest to the OP that once the cigar is done, you flush it. Not for any legal reasons, but because the stub and ashes really start to stink within a short while.
LOL I have never liked the smell of cigars, nor would I ever smoke one - though my father enjoyed them occasionally. I was just wondering about the offhand remark in a movie. As if a Syfy channel movie would be documentation of anything [other than the inability of their writers to do any significant research in anything.]
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  #13  
Old 12-09-2012, 02:57 AM
Horatio Hellpop Horatio Hellpop is offline
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The only place I can find them here in Korea is in stores right outside US military bases--not that I'm looking hard. The most appealing thing about them is that they're forbidden fruit in some archaic context.
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:58 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spoons View Post
To the best of my knowledge, American law prevents American citizens from purchasing Cuban products anywhere in the world. But practically speaking, enforcement of this law is impossible. US agencies, such as the FBI, ATF, and Treasury, do not have jurisdiction in foreign countries, unless the foreign country allows them to. And usually, it doesn't.
This is true (cite in previous threads). It's technically illegal for an American citizen to purchase Cuban cigars outside of the U.S., and the penalty can be stiff. But it's not enforceable, and from what I've read the 'enforcement' runs along the lines posted by DataX.

I believe Hari Seldon is correct that pre-embargo cigars are legal in the U.S. ISTR that JFK imported several boxes of Cuban cigars just before he instituted the embargo.
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  #15  
Old 12-09-2012, 10:13 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. View Post
I believe Hari Seldon is correct that pre-embargo cigars are legal in the U.S. ISTR that JFK imported several boxes of Cuban cigars just before he instituted the embargo.
And that would make sense since they were already bought and paid for, so if you buy them from a dealer, no monies from the sale end up in Cuba.
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  #16  
Old 12-09-2012, 10:38 AM
abel29a abel29a is offline
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A slight hijack-if I, as a Norwegian citizen,were to be stopped in Customs at an airport with a box of five or ten cigars from Cuba, what would happend? Could I risk a charge for smuggling illegal goods? Be banned from the country? Is it just illegal for American Citizens, or for all tourists entering the country? If illegal for all, is there a reasonable expectation for someone travelling to the US for the first time, to know a legal product is illegal if manufactures in one particular country?
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  #17  
Old 12-09-2012, 12:14 PM
DataX DataX is offline
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You have an obligation to know the laws on the country you are visiting. It is illegal to import them into the US. When you are visiting the US - I don't believe there is a question on the form, but there may be. In the US - the only reason it raised any flags in tha case I have personal knowledge of - is the person listed "Cigars" on the list of items he was bringing back (he doesn't like to lie). On a previous trip, he had also indicated "Cigars" - and no questions at all were raised (in that case they were not Cuban).

In this case - it to about an 1/8 of a second for the customs agent to spot "Cigars" - immediately asked if they were Cuban - and the person responded they didn't think so - they were obtained in the UK, but did have foreign writing on it. This caused her to circle and star the word "cigar" and right where you get ready to leave - as the person handed in the form - he was pulled out of line.

My point is - since you theoretically wouldn't be leaving them in the US as traditionally is thought - there is probably no place on the form for you to fill it out. I doubt you would ever get pulled out of line - and if you did - they will almost certainly just take them from you. The additudes of the customs agents in the case I am talking about - was almost - sorry - its a stupid law, but we have to enforce it. They really didn't care.

If they think you are trying to sell them - that may be a different story - or if they are looking for a reason not to let you in. I am 99.5% sure you won't have a problem.
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  #18  
Old 12-09-2012, 01:22 PM
Jake Jake is offline
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Quick question: What's so great about Cuban cigars? Are the worth the trouble one has to go through to obtain them? I'm sure there are many American cigars that are of equivalent value.
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Old 12-09-2012, 02:33 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Originally Posted by Jake View Post
Quick question: What's so great about Cuban cigars? Are the worth the trouble one has to go through to obtain them? I'm sure there are many American cigars that are of equivalent value.
Purely subjective, of course, but I've had a few, and they are definitely the best cigars I've even had. I wouldn't compare them to "American cigars", but there are some from other places in the Caribbean that come close (I noted Dominican, above).

But it's like comparing a $200 bottle of wine with a $50 bottle of wine. At some point you're paying for that extra 2% of whatever intangibleness there is.
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  #20  
Old 12-09-2012, 02:37 PM
qualityleashdog qualityleashdog is offline
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I enjoy cigars now and then, and can tell a good one from el cheapo. I had a cuban at a bachelor party a few years back. First and only time. It was good, certainly better than many I had smoked, but not excessively better than some I paid a few bucks each for from other countries. These cigars were a gift from the groom's uncle, and I think the family had some connections with black market and imports, perhaps. Best not to pry too deeply in such matters. The best part of smoking a cuban was the fact that they were forbidden, and we were enjoying something many, many other people would not have the chance to do. Other than that, they were average. Like others said before here, the cuban seeds have been exported, as well as the craftsmen that make cubans. So it is possible to get an entirely comparable cigar from many other countries. The only thing you don't get is that same tobacco, grown in that particular spot on earth. Sort of like how each particular scotch distillery is affected by it's exact placement in Scotland. Same techniques, materials, similar craftsmanship, but the particular local environment imparts certain unique characteristics. So I don't think we're missing all that much with cubans. That was my opinion after having smoked one.
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Old 12-09-2012, 03:06 PM
Darth Sensitive Darth Sensitive is offline
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I heard a story from my dad, who travels often on business. He was in the inspection line flying back into the US behind somebody clueless who had purchased cigars abroad.

Customs agent wanted to know if they were Cubans. Traveler was unable to say for sure. The customs agent prompted him again. Traveler didn't know. Agent suggested that Cubans were illegal and essentially identical Dominican cigars were not. Traveler didn't know. Agent was losing patience and told the traveler that if they were Dominican he was free to go, otherwise, he'd be pulled aside for a long inspection.

The traveler finally wised up and decided they were Dominican, at which point the customs official passed him through with an eyeroll.
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Old 12-09-2012, 03:21 PM
doorhinge doorhinge is offline
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Originally Posted by aruvqan View Post
So I am watching some stupid Syfy channel movie and one guy comments that it is illegal for US citizens to smoke Cuban cigars anywhere in the world so they better smoke up. So, if you leave Cuban cigar ashes in an ashtray in your house [but the stub is nowhere to be found] can they actually test the ash and prove it is a contraband Cuban cigar, and what can they do to you?

No, I don't need answer fast.
The SYFY channel? Cuban tobacco plants have been smuggled out of Cuba and into several countries with similar climates and soil conditions. Could the FBI test ash residue to discover if your ash actually came from Cuba? Maybe, their techs have a pretty good reputation. Would they spend the time and money to bust your butt for having Cuban ash? Not likely unless they were trying to connect your ash to ash found at a kidnapping or other federal crime.

The BATF and FBI do not have jurisdiction outside of the U.S.. They have no authority to break into your German or French hotel room and haul you off for smoking a cuban. (That's the CIA's job. hehehe) It has been illegal to import Cuban cigars since 1962. However, over the decades, "deals" have been made and transactions have been ignored (winked at). If you were to "be caught" bringing a box of cuban cigars into the U.S., the cigars would probably be confiscated. You may pay a fine. You may be strip searched. Good luck with that.

If you had a box of cubans on display in your home, even if an invited guest had ratted you out to authorities, I doubt any federal authority would issue a warrant to search your home or to arrest you. But they could.
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Old 12-09-2012, 04:04 PM
doorhinge doorhinge is offline
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Originally Posted by Jake View Post
Quick question: What's so great about Cuban cigars? Are the worth the trouble one has to go through to obtain them? I'm sure there are many American cigars that are of equivalent value.
They're popular because they're illegal. Cigars are like any other commodity. One house may use only the best maduro or cameroon wrapper with only the finest long leaf filler but they also produce a lessor "stick" (single cigar) made up of floor cuttings and last years left over wrappers and sell it under another name. They would both be considered "Cuban" or "Dominican" etc.

Just as you could commute to work in a brand new Audi A8 or 15 year old Chevy S10. Both will get you to work and back but one would be more enjoyable. It depends on what you want and what you're willing to (or can afford to) pay.

Top of the line Cohiba Black Label Churchills can set you back $100 for 5 (five) cigars. You can buy 60 (sixty) Garcia y vega English Coronas for about the same price.
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  #24  
Old 12-09-2012, 06:42 PM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Originally Posted by Jake View Post
Quick question: What's so great about Cuban cigars? Are the worth the trouble one has to go through to obtain them? I'm sure there are many American cigars that are of equivalent value.
Good question, though to me all cigars smell disgusting. <shrug> Guess that is why I don't smoke them.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:27 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Originally Posted by doorhinge View Post
They're popular because they're illegal. Cigars are like any other commodity. One house may use only the best maduro or cameroon wrapper with only the finest long leaf filler but they also produce a lessor "stick" (single cigar) made up of floor cuttings and last years left over wrappers and sell it under another name. They would both be considered "Cuban" or "Dominican" etc.

Just as you could commute to work in a brand new Audi A8 or 15 year old Chevy S10. Both will get you to work and back but one would be more enjoyable. It depends on what you want and what you're willing to (or can afford to) pay.

Top of the line Cohiba Black Label Churchills can set you back $100 for 5 (five) cigars. You can buy 60 (sixty) Garcia y vega English Coronas for about the same price.
Right. Mostly it is because they are forbidden. But yes, the very top end Cuban cigars are supposedly the best in the world.

Actually, if you are in Cuba legally, and keep you spending within the limits, a cigar or two appears to be completely legal.
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