Acquiring The Forbidden: Purchasing Cuban Cigars

Celebrated American wit Mark Twain is widely loved for the economy of his prose and his opinion on the unattainable is no exception: “The more things are forbidden, the more popular they become.” Mythologized to proportions that are difficult to comprehend in literature, film, and television, Cuban cigars are a shining example of Twain’s maxim. Cigar aficionados understandably recognize and savor the wonderful complexity of cigars from that forbidden island, but even the occasional smoker will register a look of intrigue when confronted with the prospect of a Cuban. As long the embargo remains in place between the United States and Cuba, the sumptuous mystery of the cigars will persist.

In a situation where it pays to be boss, John F. Kennedy sent his press secretary to obtain 1,200 petit corona Cuban cigars in early 1962. When his underling returned the next morning with the parcel, Kennedy promptly signed an executive order that enacted the trade embargo between the United States and Cuba. While shocked smokers all over the country scrambled to hoard as many cigars as they could, Kennedy puffed away in the Oval Office knowing he was set for the foreseeable future. 

In the fifty years that have followed, Americans have gone to great lengths to procure this verboten pleasure. Before the advent of e-commerce, the ways in which a smoker could acquire Cubans was limited. Traveling to Canada and Mexico was the primary method, though border crossers had to contend with confiscation of their prize or worse. In the 21st century, one needn’t leave their bedroom to get a taste of Caribbean heaven.

To find vetted, qualified tobacco outfitters online, one must be meticulous in their research. Although it is more than possible to find one’s preferred brand of Cuban cigars on the internet, counterfeiting of cigars and misrepresenting their place of origin is a real problem. Some statistical evaluations claim that upwards of 95% of the cigars claiming to originate from Cuba found in the United States are fakes. By doing the legwork for online businesses (reading copious reviews, seeking out recommendations in forums) one can drastically reduce the risk of acquiring phony goods. There is no sense in paying the premium for a product if the authenticity cannot be guaranteed.

To subvert any customs issues that may arise from the importation of Cuban cigars from abroad, cigar retailers will often ship their products in plain boxes without trademarked banding that denotes…

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