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Why Are Cuban Cigars Illegal?


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In the United States, it is against the law to sell cigars made in Cuba because of political considerations. The United States of America has placed embargoes and sanctions on Cuba; you can also assume these limitations to tobacco products manufactured in Cuba.

But things haven’t always been this way. With the new government comes the possibility that it may alter the restrictions once again. So if you’ve got a serious need for authentic Cuban cigars, the best thing you can do is make sure you’re always up to speed on the latest news.

In this article, we’ll learn more about why Cuban cigars are illegal in different countries.

So without further ado, let’s get into the meat of the ground.

Why Are Cuban Cigars Illegal?

Why Are Cuban Cigars Illegal?
Why Are Cuban Cigars Illegal?

It has been known for a long time that Cuban cigars are the greatest. However, suppose cigar aficionados in the United States wish to enjoy them. In that case, they can only do so in a way that they consider unlawful. Cigars made in Cuba are not allowed for anybody to sell in the United States.

President John F. Kennedy implemented a strict trade embargo on Cuban imports in February 1962. Kennedy did this to take a position against and undermine the communist dictatorship of Fidel Castro. The embargo applies to all imports from Cuba. However, because a communist totalitarian regime still rules Cuba, the embargo is still in place.

Suppose you’re trying to get around the ban by purchasing cigars in Canada, Mexico, or the United Kingdom. In that case, you should be aware that the prohibition also makes it unlawful for visitors from the United States to bring back tobacco goods that originated in Cuba. Also, this is regardless of where you purchased them.

The prohibition on bringing back Cuban cigars also applies to the ones given to you as gifts while you were there. Because being arrested while attempting to sneak a Cuban cigar through customs in the United States might result in a fine of up to $55,000, the cigars have become less attractive.

Why Are Cuban Cigars Illegal in the United States?

Why Are Cuban Cigars Illegal in the United States?
Why Are Cuban Cigars Illegal in the United States?

Cigar aficionados all around the globe agree that authentic Cuban cigars are the benchmark against which the government should judge all other cigars. However, people often consider it among the most valuable and sought-after items produced in the cigar business. To members of the cigar culture all over the globe, the most opulent and regal experience is to inhale the scent of a premium Cuban cigar while simultaneously indulging in its earthy and creamy flavor.

Despite its widespread acceptance and charm among cigar smokers in the United States, the cigar has a difficult history intertwined with that of the nation. Yet, despite the many honors and successes, Cuban cigars have garnered throughout their history, they continue to be subject to legislative constraints.

The stringent trade embargo that is in place against Cuban imports is the reason why you cannot sell Cuban cigars in the United States. This is the most straightforward explanation. The first proponent of this restriction was John F. Kennedy, and he was the one who put it into place in the early 1960s.

The remark was made public in 1962, and the intention behind it was to undermine the communist system that Fidel Castro had established in Cuba, which at the time was starting to get a significant amount of momentum worldwide. At a certain juncture, the prohibition had very stringent repercussions for those involved.

Suppose the police catch you attempting to bring a Cuban cigar into the United States illegally. In that case, you’ll need to pay a fine that might reach an astounding 55,000 dollars if they find you guilty of the crime.

Despite this, the embargo on Cuban cigars increased the attraction and the need for Cuban goods. As a result, people strongly longed for the flavor of Cuban soil that the cigar represents. This essay delves further into the delicate links that the United States maintains with Cuba, providing a clearer picture of the legal complications surrounding Cuban cigars.

Are Cuban Cigars Legal in Canada?

Are Cuban Cigars Legal in Canada?
Are Cuban Cigars Legal in Canada?

The purchase of Cuban cigars in Canada is entirely lawful. You can attribute the absence of a trade embargo between Canada and Cuba to a variety of factors, including the following:

Relations Between Two Countries

For a very long time, there has been a mutually beneficial partnership between Canada and Cuba in all spheres of activity, including the commercial sphere. For example, the Cuban government is “undertaking the process of economic modernization,” while the Canadian government “completely supports the process.” However, because Canada and Cuba maintain bilateral ties, no trade barriers prevent Cuban cigars from being imported into Canada.


According to the Canadian Government, Cuba is the third most popular location for tourists from Canada to go to when they go outside the country in the year 2021. In addition, Canadians account for almost 40 percent of the whole tourist industry in Cuba, making up the vast majority of visitors to the island nation.

Cigar enthusiasts who try a Cuban cigar while on vacation almost certainly want to bring back their new preferred premium Cuban cigar and light it up at home. You will be relieved to know that as a Canadian, you can locate a vendor, purchase a box, and keep them in your humidor.

The Development of Cigars in Canada Throughout History

The Development of Cigars in Canada Throughout History
The Development of Cigars in Canada Throughout History

We can trace back the widespread use of cigars in Canada to the late 19th century when the First Nation groups disseminated information on wild tobacco to the general public. To meet the ever-increasing demand for cigars in the early 20th century, forty cigar makers in Canada mostly located their tobacco growing operations in Norfolk, in the province of Ontario.

However, by the 1920s, Cuban and American cigars had entered the market at far lower prices than Canadian cigars, which led to the closure of the Canadian cigar factories. Even though Canadian cigar producers went out of business, Canadians retained their passion for cigars. They continued to purchase brands from other countries.

This persisted until the Cuban Revolution, when the United States declared the importation of Cuban cigars illegal. As a result, Canadian cigar producers could emerge and satisfy the demand for quality cigars in the American market. Between 1960 and 1990, worldwide sales of cigars fell, even though some demand for cigars and new cigar manufacturers were springing up.

Cigars didn’t go through their rebirth until the 1990s when they became more popular again. As a result of the embargo, producers sought out other nations like Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic to cultivate high-quality tobacco to export it to the United States and other countries worldwide.

Canada’s Cuban Cigar History

It is important to note that Canada and Cuba have a mutually beneficial commercial arrangement that allows for the importation of Cuban cigars. In addition, there have never been any limitations placed on commerce between Cuba and Canada, meaning Canadians are free to purchase Cuban cigars lawfully from tobacco stores.

Why Are Cuban Cigars legal in Australia?

In Australia, smoking cigars is not against the law. Australia plans to import cigars from Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua, among other countries. Even though you require a cigarette license in several states, it is in your best interest to investigate and confirm the international standards or guidelines for using cigars in Australia.

Why Are Cuban Cigars legal in the UK?

Because the United Kingdom does not have an embargo on Cuba as the United States or Israel does, it is not against the law to bring or consume Cuban cigars into that country. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to carry cigars back from Cuba. Instead, make sure you know the maximum for duty-free purchases.

Is It Possible To Buy Cuban Cigars Online In the United States?

Is It Possible To Buy Cuban Cigars Online In the United States?
Is It Possible To Buy Cuban Cigars Online In the United States?

After a quick search on the internet, you could find various websites that claim to be able to ship you authentic Cuban cigars. Do not, under any circumstances, fall for this concept, regardless of how enticing it may seem.

Even after it became legal for visitors to the United States to bring Cuban cigars into the nation on their trips, the selling and commercial import of cigars remained illegal in the country. As a result, the government never authorized anyone to purchase Cuban cigars over the internet.

Because of the increased scrutiny that the government is directing on Cuban missile crisis exports, purchasing these cigars through the internet is now a far more dangerous endeavor. So you can be putting yourself in danger of having to face major repercussions by doing this.

Please remember that the government has only updated the rules with the most current changes over the last several months. However, there are still some online shops and importers who have not updated the information that is available on their websites. If you go ahead and place the purchase nonetheless, you run the chance of being charged for a product you will never get. Unfortunately, many cigar lovers are still buying Cuban cigars online. 

Final Words

It is against the law to bring cigars from Cuban tobacco products into the United States, whether for commercial or personal usage. This is not owing to the chemical make-up of these cigarette products; rather, it is because of the political ties between the United States and Cuba.

The option to bring in a box of Cuban cigars, formerly offered, is no longer available. So you’re going to have to make do for the time being with the excellent cigars from Central and South America.

Written by:
Editor-in-Chief and lead author at WhyDo