Counterfeit Cuban Cigars: How to Avoid Being Scammed
When tourists travel to Havana, most of them are in the hopes of getting their hands on a genuine Cuban cigar. Let's be honest. A trip to Cuba isn't complete without grabbing a few cigars and taking them back home. But unfortunately, what happens more often than not, is that they end up being scammed into purchasing a fake cigar with the most terrible quality - we're talking about bad flavour, construction and draw. If you want to avoid being deceived into buying a counterfeit item, then have a read below:
Why are people making fake cigars? Simply, the demand for genuine Cuban cigars exceeds the supply. Ever since the U.S. embargo on Cuba, Habanos cigars have earned the reputation of being the 'forbidden fruit', creating mystique and exclusivity around the good. Sure, there are many other places you can get some tobacco, but nothing really compares to the esteem of getting cigars from Cuba. Even today, countless tourists would like the pleasure of bringing home a box of Cohiba Esplendidos or Montecristo No. 2's as a souvenir. Because of this demand, many 'scammers' have exploited the popularity of the local tobacco good. Unfortunately, the majority of tourists do not know the difference between the real and the fake. Therefore, scammers cash-in on tourists who are simply misinformed about Cuban cigars by offering them prices that are too good to be true.
"WHY FAKE CUBAN CIGARS?"
"HOW DO THE SCAMMERS OPERATE?"
So, what can you expect from these scammers? In many cases, the swindler will take you to a 'cigar shop' or to a house, to present to you some "genuine" Cuban cigars. Don't be fooled - if you cannot find any signs of Habanos S.A. certifications or Government stickers anywhere, then that is a sure sign that you might be getting scammed. These scammers will also claim that they are somehow connected to the Cuban cigar factories, it's either they know someone who works there or claim that they are employees from the factories selling their daily gratuities. Though employees do retrieve some complimentary stogies from the company, likely, they won't sell them. Why? If a worker steals from the factory, then they are essentially taking from the Government, that means they can win a free 25-year trip to Combinado del Este - a notorious prison in Cuba. But if you do get your hands on some counterfeit products, you will find that the cigars are either made with bad-quality tobacco leaves, dried banana leaves or even dyed paper - totally unideal to smoke.
"HOW TO SPOT THE FAKES"
Unfortunately, the reputation of Cuban cigars has been tainted by these scamming artists. Therefore, the Government have placed strict regulations to stop the counterfeit trade, while also making it easier for tourists to identify what is real and what is fake. On the box, you should find a hologram warranty seal that says 'Republica de Cuba: Sello de Garantía Nacional de Procedencia', under UV-light you can detect the serial number and emblem. This hologram seal makes it so much more expensive for swindlers to replicate. Therefore, if you cannot find the shiny hologram, it's sure-sign that it is a fake. But if you would like to double-check, the Habanos S.A. site offers an 'authenticity checker' that checks the code on the sticker. For more indicators of authenticity, do read the article, How to Spot Counterfeit Cuban Cigars. Another thing to keep in mind is that Cuban cigars aren't cheap, especially when the government tightly regulates the prices of ALL Cuban cigars themselves. This means, no matter what shop you go, every cigar should have the same price point.
"SAFE PLACES TO BUY CUBAN CIGARS"
Now that you are totally aware of the counterfeiting of Cuban cigars, it's time to help you find reliable and genuine shops to purchase these artisanal goods. The most fool-proof places to buy authentic cigars are through Government-run cigar shops like 'La Casa Del Habano', state hotels, licensed state shops or if you can just visit the official cigar factories themselves, like the 'El Laguito' Cohiba Factory. This official Habanos certification doesn't only apply to physical stores, but you can also find it on online stores, just like our Cuban Cigar Shop.
We hope that this article has given you enough information on how to avoid being scammed in Cuba! For more interesting blog posts about all-things Cuban cigars, then have a look at our Cuban Cigar Blog: