Father’s Day in Cuba without Cigarettes

By Nike

HAVANA TIMES – We all know that cigarettes are bad for our health. But there are lots of smokers in Cuba. Just imagine, the land of tobacco without any cigarettes in stores and bodegas. Shortages in Cuba always begin with things that we produce nationally, I don’t know why.

The thing I do know is that lots of Cubans have the bad habit of smoking cigarettes, especially men and young people. Sunday was Father’s Day and on top of the list of shortages – such as not being able to drink a beer like so many fathers enjoy because it costs 200 Cuban pesos, or not being able to eat a piece of pork, as well as so many other things -, well there’s also the shortage of packs of cigarettes.

Aware of this, I went to every cafe in town to look for a pack of cigarettes for my husband. Despite being against encouraging this addiction, I tried to make an exception because it was Father’s Day and seeing as we can’t do anything else but have a family lunch, without beer and pork, I wanted to give him the pleasure of being able to light up a little after coffee.

A young woman at one of the cafes I visited told me that they didn’t have any, that I shouldn’t waste my time and gave me the address for a house where she bought a pack for 200 Cuban pesos.

That’s when I decided to buy him some cigars for 25 pesos each and roll some cigarettes for him out of them, we call these kinds of cigarettes Brevas o Tupamaros. That’s exactly what I did, and my husband was able to spend Father’s Day without the anxiety he gets from the withdrawal of nicotine in his blood.

I don’t agree with my husband’s habit of smoking, he’s even thinking of giving it up, but I understand he can’t do it cold turkey, that he needs to reduce the number of cigarettes he smokes slowly. I also understand that to give up an age-old addiction, you need a moment of peace, and I hope this moment comes soon because I’m sure there are many fathers who will lose their lungs to this crisis.

Smokers roam the streets like crazy. A woman approximately my age, dressed like a nurse, overheard me asking for cigarettes in the cafe and told me that she’d come from a store where they told her that they wouldn’t sell them to her, even if she was dressed like a surgeon, because she’d already got her rations-worth for this month.

Another smoker, a man this time, asked me if there were cigarettes anywhere to be found. I told him there weren’t and told him about the cigar alternative. I don’t think he liked the idea all too much. Smokers prefer their Criollos, H Upmann or Populares. These are Cuban brands of strong cigarettes that addicts like.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of the fathers at Havana Times and among our readers, a very happy Father’s Day!

Read more from Nike’s diary here.


I was born in Havana, Cuba. All my life I have had the sea as a landscape. I like being close to it, feeling its breeze, its smell, as well as swimming and enjoying the wonders it gives us. Thanks to the manual skill that I inherited from my parents, I have been able to live off crafts. I work primarily papier-mâché, making puppets for children. I write for Havana Times for the possibility of sharing with the world the life of my country and my people.