Since I managed to catch a cold, and can neither taste anything, nor even really have a desire to smoke a cigar, I figured today I would write about Friday’s executive order and how I think it’s weird. Let’s go back to January 2015, which is when President Obama, by executive order, made it legal for U.S. citizen, traveling to Cuba directly, to legally bring back $100 in cigars and alcohol. This was a big deal, as it had been illegal to spend money on Cuban goods of any kind, anywhere, for 52 years. I personally know several people who went to Cuba on “people to people” trips (toured cigar factories) and came home with their allotment, and that’s cool. Of course, the general public only read the headlines and deluged cigar retailers with questions about Cuban cigars. Remember, the year prior, the FDA released their deeming documents on regulating cigars that had everyone up in arms about the future of the premium cigar industry. I thought about taking a trip to Cuba, BTW, but for the money it would cost, I could go to Nicaragua twice and have as good a time. I know, it’s Cuba and it will change when the embargo is lifted and not be the back-in-time workers paradise it is now (sorry, my sarcasm filter broke there for a bit), but I can’t justify the cost. Back to the subject at hand…
Starting Monday, October 17, 2016, it will now be perfectly legal to buy and bring into the US, Cuban cigars and rum, and, presumably, other Cuban goods (cite here). The quantities are limited by US Customs, I think there’s an $800 limit before you have to pay duties, and they can only be for personal use, not for resale. No container loads allowed. That means don’t go calling up your local retailer asking if they are selling Cubans! Believe me, they will get tired of it. So, in a couple of weeks when I am in Reykjavik, Iceland I can buy Cuban cigars and legally bring them back, which I don’t expect to do, as I imagine they will be stupidly expensive. So this news is great for the uneducated, entitled, douchebag who has been smoking his fake Cohibas exclusively because they are the best in the world. Sorry if I offend any of the uneducated, entitled, douchebags reading…actually, no, I’m not. Remember that 2014 FDA deeming document? Back in May, the FDA ignored all the comments that they were legally bound to read and respond to, ignored all the congressmen and senators who said regulating premium cigars wasn’t their intention in the Tobacco Control act, and went right ahead and imposed worse restrictions on premium cigars that they do on cigarettes! As a result, thousands of Americans will potentially be out of business, many of whom are our friends, not to mention tens of thousands of people in the cigar producing countries in the Caribbean and Central America, people already living in poverty. The president of the Dominican Republic has asked Mr. Obama to do something about the FDA thing, because of the economic harm it will do to his country, and the answer is allowing (and encouraging) the largest cigar market on the planet to buy unregulated, un-taxed cigars (from a communist country with human rights violations out the yingyang, no less)? So lets plunge five or six countries who rely on cigars further into third world country status, so we can normalize Cuban relations by letting people buy their luxury goods? It just makes no logical sense. Now, when it is legal to sell Cuban cigars in the US and they can tax them and subject them to all the FDA fees and regulations that the Cubans won’t pay anyway…wait, it still makes no sense. How else can I point out the absurdity of simultaneously supporting a communist regime, and making it impossible for legitimate businesses who have been legally participating in the American economy to continue? It irritates me that friend’s businesses get destroyed while people lose their shit buying Cuban cigars in other countries. Way to support small business in America!
I could keep going, and I realize that premium cigars represent only 0.1% of the tobacco industry in the US, but that’s a 0.1% I happen to care about, and have a lot of friends who put food in their children’s mouths as a result. Please go to CigarRights.org and sent your elected officials a letter, it’s the least you can do, and might just help and certainly can’t hurt. Remember, you still can’t sell Cuban Cigars in the US, you still can’t order them online, but the customs folks can’t take those five Cuban Montecristos out of your shirt pocket and throw them in the trashcan anymore. The whole situation is offensive to people making better cigars and trying to save their livelihood.
On a more pleasant note, if you’re a fan of Sam Leccia, wrestling, or both, check out MarkOutRadio.com (NSFW) tonight, Sunday, October 16, 2016, at 5:00 Eastern where Sam will be a guest on the show.
That’s more than enough from me for today, until the next time (when I can taste things and enjoy some fine cigars, maybe I’ll smoke a pre-executive order contraband cigar and be a rebel!),