We felt the need to warn our friends and customers about the dangers of counterfeit Cuban Cigars so we made a video about why they should be avoided. We also wrote a thing. Check it out below.
In America we cannot buy Cuban cigars. Yes, this is in fact still the case. Because of their contraband nature Habanos have achieved an almost mythic status in the USA. You always want that which you cannot have. Or something like that.
Of course, anywhere else on planet Earth Cuban cigars are perfectly legal and available for sale. Americans are given to buying Cubans when they find themselves in foreign lands. These same Americans are typically unfamiliar with these cigars as they are not easy to get in America. That means when traveling abroad we and our countrymen make perfect marks for the scourge of the cigar collector. Counterfeiters.
Cuban counterfeits range from real premium long filled cigars that have a fake band, or sometimes a real band on a non-Cuban stick, to absolute gutter trash floor sweeping stuffed abominations. Therein lies the problem. The former are likely safe to smoke, probably taste okay, and their biggest sin is misrepresenting themselves. The latter are pure evil. They are filled with what is actually garbage. Floor sweepings is a literal term. It is the rubbish that is removed from the floor of a cigar factory. Largely comprised of tobacco trimmings it can also include the following: dirt, rocks, human hair, paper, plastic, animal waste, animal hair, et al. Anything you can imagine would end up on the shoe of someone walking to work in a third world country can be found on the floors in these factories.
All of that makes fake Cubans not worth the risk. You aren't just risking embarrassment at having been ripped off. It's not just about avoiding bad tasting cigars. Floor sweeping filled cigars are unsafe for consumption. Next time you are on a cruise and you stop in whichever island paradise beware the man peddling bargain priced Cohibas. Don't buy that glass top Cuban sampler pack in Cozumel. Unless you are absolutely certain beyond a shadow of a doubt as to the authenticity of the cigar don't buy or smoke any so called Cuban. Don't let your friends smoke these horror shows.
My suggestion? Smoke cigars that you can obtain legally in the United States from reputable sellers. Dominican and Nicaraguan manufacturers have largely caught up to the Cubans in terms of quality. However, it is true that the unique characteristics of Cuban tobacco are not really replicable. So if you still feel the itch and must try a Cuban I implore you to educate yourself. There are a lot of resources out there for spotting fakes. Learn what to look for and protect yourself.