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Just because America is isolated from Cuba does not mean Cuba is isolated from the rest of the world. No stranger to the global recession, the communist country’s cigar production has taken a hit.
“There was a reduction in planting due to limitations in resources caused by the economic crisis,” reported a Cuban Communist Party newspaper. The last harvest was down by 14 percent, with overall cigar production reduced by well over half in the last five years.
The rest of the world loves Cuban cigars (well, Americans love them too, but not legally.) Yet as the political correctness virus spreads throughout Europe and the rest of the world, Cubans are increasingly becoming less popular as draconian smoking bans limit smokers’ options. Add that to a decline in airline passengers which reduced duty-free sales figures, and the Cuban cigar industry is beginning to be pushed to the edge of panic.
It doesn’t help that cigars from Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Honduras are now comparable in quality to Cubans, and that their manufacturers are not limited by the socialist policies imposed on Cubatabaco. Certainly, the Cuban cigar industry’s practices were modernized when Altadis purchased 50% of Habanos S.A., the Cuban tobacco monopoly’s marketing and distribution arm. But right now, the ailing Cuban cigar industry could really use the support of one of the world’s largest cigar-smoking nations, the U.S. Not that the embargo will be lifted anytime soon.
For all you armchair economists, check out this article going into more detail about Cuban economic woes. For the rest of us, sit back and light a stogie and think about this: whether communist or capitalist, we are all now under the thumb of global forces. As the article’s author Stuart Burns puts it: “The world can live without Cuban sugar and could get by without Cuban nickel but it would not be quite the same without Cuban cigars.”