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How To Spot Fake Cuban Cigars

Posted by David Happe on

Everyone knows that Cuban cigars are the most coveted cigars, renown worldwide for their smoothness and rich flavors.  Indeed, Cuban cigars are so prized that many illegitimate dealers have been known to sell fake Cubans to unsuspecting cigar smokers.  How do you tell if what you have is a fake or the real thing? First, make certain that you purchase your cigars from a legitimate dealer.  Buying from your local tobacconist or a reputable mail order business can protect you from forking your money over for a box of fake cigars.  

If you have an opportunity to purchase a box of purported Cuban cigars, but have your doubts, take the time to examine the box before purchasing it.  Here are a few tips to help you spot the fakes from the real thing.

The most important thing to examine is the box.  Authentic Cuban cigars will contain a green and white warranty seal on the left front side of the box.  The seal will contain an insignia that has a picture of a shield and a hat. On the upper right hand corner of the box, you should find a white sticker that is placed diagonally with the word 'Habanos' printed on it.  The overall appearance of the box should be neat and clean. If the box appears damaged, smudged, frayed, or marked, avoid it. If the color of the box is dull, don't buy it. Even if the cigars are the real things, their quality may have suffered in transport.  If you are in the market for Cohiba, Trinidad, or Q'dorsay brand cigars, know that all authentic Cohiba's will contain the green and white warranty seal on the right hand side of the box.   

On the bottom of the box of cigars, you should find a heat stamp with the words 'Habanos.'  The heat stamp should be impressed onto the bottom of the box. Fake Cuban cigar boxes often find other ways to imprint this label, such as using rubber stamps or paper labels.  You should also find a factory code stamp at the bottom that is stamped in green, blue or black ink. This stamp will tell you when and where the cigars were rolled.  

If you can open the box, take the time to smell the tobacco.  Cuban cigars will have a deep, rich aroma, unmistakable to dedicated cigar aficionados.  If the smell is off, or very weak, chances are you do not have a box of authentic Cuban cigars in your hands.    The cigars should be facing the same way, and the top row may appear slightly flattened. The caps on all the cigars should appear identical, and the foot of each cigar should be cut clean.  The bands on all the cigars should also be identical, and should be arranged so that they face the same direction. If allowed, test the cigars out by pressing down on them. Feel along the entire length of each cigar, checking for soft or hard spots.  The cigars should feel firm yet pliable.  

Every cigar aficionado knows that the very best cigars come from Cuba.  Unfortunately, buying the best can often be a risky proposition. But many cigar enthusiasts are willing to take the risk to get a taste of the very best.  If you're wondering just how one would get their hands on a box of Cubans, read on. Because of the relationship between the United States and Cuba, know that there are a lot of people looking to take advantage of cigar aficionados.  Purchasing Cuban cigars should be done with great caution in order to avoid getting duped.  

First, know that importing cigars from Cuba is considered illegal.  The United States placed economic sanctions on the Cuban government in 1963.  Ever since then, Cuban cigars have become the holy grail of cigar enthusiasts.  There is, however, one loophole: visitors to Cuba who return from a sanctioned and licensed visit are allowed to bring back cigars.  However, visitors are not able to bring back more than $100 worth of cigars, and they must be intended for personal use, and not for resale.  

Any other ways of obtaining Cuban cigars is considered illegal.  It is in fact illegal to buy, sell or trade Cuban cigars in the United States.  Fines for illegal trading, buying or selling of Cuban cigars may face up to $55,000 in civil fines.  This type of fine, however, is quite rare. The more likely scenario is that you'll have your cigars confiscated.  

When purchasing a box of Cuban cigars, be prepared to fork over quite a bit of your cash.  Prices can range from about $150 to $500 or more. If you're offered a box below these prices, chances are it may not be the real thing.  Most Internet businesses that sell purportedly genuine Cuban cigars tend to be imitations. Always avoid shops or retailers that offer "discounted" Cuban cigars.  If you live in the United States, it is illegal to buy Cuban cigars for delivery in the United States, and illegal to buy and sell them.  The ONLY legal way is to purchase them elsewhere for your own personal consumption.

If you plan to acquire Cuban cigars through legal methods for your own consumption, check out the most recent United States laws before you do as they have changed regularly over the past decade, and you need to carefully follow United States regulations to stay within the bounds of the legalities of the United States prohibition on certain aspects of Cuban cigars in the USA.

Chances are, Dominican or Nicaraguan cigars will be equally good if not better, without the complications that legalization in the United States may pose.  Don't take unnecessary risks for a cigar.  


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