On December 17th, the White House released a statement outlaying a plan to normalize relationships with Cuba. This is a huge change after decades of Cold War policies in place, and follows a recent exchange of prisoners between both countries. President Obama, speaking about the changes, said, “Neither the American, nor Cuban people are well served by a rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born.” He goes on to add, “We are taking steps to increase travel, commerce, and the flow of information to and from Cuba.” There is finally going to be a U.S. embassy in Havana. It will be the first time since January 3, 1961 that America has operated an embassy inside Cuban borders, so this is again historic news.
This is also fantastic news for cigar enthusiasts! It is now legal for the first time in decades to import Cuban cigars. If you travel to Cuba, you can bring back $400 worth of goods, including $100 worth of tobacco and alcohol products—including Cuban cigars. This is still pretty restrictive. You won’t be able to bring back much in the way of boxes, but at least now you can legally transport back a few stogies of your choice, and perhaps one of the cheaper boxes. What’s great about this too is that now it is legal to smoke Cuban cigars in the U.S. While obviously people have been doing this for decades without consequence, it was technically a violation of the law, and now it isn’t. The U.S. is the largest market for Cuban cigars already, despite the trade embargo. With restrictions lifting, the industry might thrive even more.