Over the past year, one of the most common I’ve heard from many people is “When will see Cuban Cigars available the United States?” The answer to that question pretty much is dependent on when the Cuban Embargo will actually be lifted. However, this answer is now more complicated by the recent announcement of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s new regulations that affect premium cigars. In a nutshell, even if the green light were in place to sell Cuban cigars tomorrow, the fact now is that Cuban cigars cannot be sold right away.
What Needs to Happen to give Cuban Cigars the Green Light?
Lifting the Cuban Embargo can only be done through an Act of Congress and must be signed into law by the President. There is a House of Representatives Bill and a Senate Bill that have been positioned to lift the embargo. Like any other bills, these must make it to the House and Senate floor and pass with a vote. While President Obama has given every indication he would sign such legislation, given that there probably will be a new U.S. President in office by the time this bill, we do not know whether the next President will sign off on this.
Meanwhile, distribution must be setup in the United States for products coming out of Cuba. Potentially Imperial Tobacco, a parent company of Habanos and Altadis USA could be a distribution arm. There also exists the potential of other distribution arms for the U.S. market as well. However, at this time we really don’t have a feel for what (and when) distribution options will be available.