HAVANA TIMES, Aug. 25 (IPS) – Cuban customs authorities have increased the control of Cuban cigars leaving the country with the introduction of a new resolution. The new law states that the 50 cigars travelers are currently allowed to take out of the country without a receipt must be in sealed and stamped genuine cigar boxes with an official hologram sticker.
The new regulation was passed on July 10 and comes into effect on October 10. It replaces a 2007 regulation that allowed travelers to have up to 50 cigars either in boxes or loose without any receipt.
The new regulations also allows for up to 20 cigars (a box usually has 25) without a receipt or any other requirement. For amounts above 50 cigars, a guarantee of origin slip is required.
Cuban cigars have suffered from falsifications at an international level, in addition to a black market in Cuba, stoked by the economic crisis.
Many of the two million tourists who travel to Cuba each year bring cigars back home with them, which amounts to a significant number of cigars leaving the country by this method.
Boxes of Cohiba, Romeo y Julieta or Montecristo cigars cost between US $100 and $450 in the official stores, depending on the brand. On the black market, the same box of cigars goes for between US $25 and $40.
News reports state that lawyers from the Habanos S.A. company say that customs restrictions are aimed at reducing falsifications and black market products that damage the image and profits of the Cuban cigar brands.
Cuba sold US $390 million worth of cigars in 2008, 3% below 2007 figures. Sales for the current year are also expected to be lower due to the international crisis and anti-smoking campaigns.