U.S. Lifts Some Restrictions on Cuban Cigars, Rum

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SCRANTON — If you have ever enjoyed a Cuban cigar or Cuban rum, chances are you enjoyed something that was obtained illegally.

On Friday, President Obama announced that travelers will be able to bring unlimited amounts of those two Cuban goods into the U.S.

Cigar smoking enthusiasts we talked to in our area say the executive action President Obama announced is a step in the right direction, but really it just makes legal something that’s been done for decades.

President Obama’s executive action lifting restrictions on bringing Cuban cigars and rum into the country is meant to spur travel to Cuba.

Bill really likes Cuban cigars, but the regular at Big House Tobacco in Scranton doesn’t like them enough to travel to Cuba to get them.

Still, the change that takes effect on Monday will make it easier for Cuban cigar lovers to get them the way they always have.

“I think it’s a good thing, it’s going to create less people in trouble. They bring them back anyway so, why not?”

Since 2014, travelers have been able to bring home up to $100 worth of cigars and rum from abroad. Now, unlimited quantities are allowed as long as it’s for personal consumption.

“I’m happy for cigar smokers everywhere,” said J.J. Fadden of Big House Tobacco. “Anything that expands the opportunity to enjoy a cigar, I’m totally endorsing, but on a retail side and as a business owner, it has no immediate impact on us whatsoever.”

Fadden owns Big House Tobacco on Green Ridge Street and thinks it will be a long time before he can sell Cubans in his store. But this, he says, is a step in the right direction.

“It’s just an incremental step to someday, getting to open markets. But, for now, it’s just taking the burden off of that guy that’s sitting at the Miami airport that has to figure out if those are Cuban cigars and how much they cost.”

Lifting the trade embargo on Cuban goods would require action from Congress. Cigar sellers we talked to don’t expect that anytime soon.

The looser restrictions for travelers begin on Monday.


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