Cuba

Feds Say You Are Now Free to Smoke Cubans Outside the U.S.

The old rule notionally exposed Americans to criminal penalties for buying and consuming Cuban cigars while abroad.

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flickr / alexbrn

Yesterday the Obama administration announced that it is decriminalizing something you probably did not realize was a crime: smoking Cuban cigars while traveling abroad. While most Americans are familiar with the ban on bringing Cuban cigars into the country (which was already loosened a bit for U.S. citizens and residents traveling legally to Cuba), the ban on buying them for consumption in other countries (none of which went along with the U.S. embargo) is more obscure and even more ridiculous.

Under a regulation adopted in 2004, the embargo against Cuba was explicitly extended to purchases in third countries. As the Treasury Department explained:

The question is often asked whether United States citizens or permanent resident aliens of the United States may legally purchase Cuban origin goods, including tobacco and alcohol products, in a third country for personal use outside the United States. The answer is no. The Regulations prohibit persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States from purchasing, transporting, importing, or otherwise dealing in or engaging in any transactions with respect to any merchandise outside the United States if such merchandise (1) is of Cuban origin; or (2) is or has been located in or transported from or through Cuba; or (3) is made or derived in whole or in part of any article which is the growth, produce or manufacture of Cuba. Thus, in the case of cigars, the prohibition extends to cigars manufactured in Cuba and sold in a third country and to cigars manufactured in a third country from tobacco grown in Cuba.

Although it's not clear whether this rule was ever actually enforced (or how that would have worked), violations of the embargo were notionally punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or a civil penalty of up to $55,000. But effective today, the Treasury Department says, "persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction may purchase or acquire Cuban origin merchandise, including alcohol and tobacco products, while in a third country provided such products are consumed while in a third country."

Bonus: Jacob Grier considers what warmer relations with Cuba will mean for cigars.

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  1. Under a regulation adopted in 2004, the embargo against Cuba was explicitly extended to purchases in third countries.

    John H. Galt the people in DC are a bunch of fucking morons.

  2. *Fd’A frantically looks up statute of limitations*

    Three a day.

    If they want you in a rape cage, you’ll be in a rape cage.

  3. Look, if you’re an American, then the American government has the right to control your behavior anywhere and anytime. And you get the pleasure of paying them to do it.

    1. I’m still waiting for the pain monster option so I don’t have to pay my taxes.

        1. I enjoy the intimate touch of the pain monster. That tube is so sterile and impersonal.

  4. So, what’s the penalty for smoking a Cuban cigar in the US?

    1. When Trump gets elected you’ll be able to smoke all the Cubans you want. You’ll be able to smoke Mexicans, too. In fact, you’ll be able to legally smoke anybody with skin darker than Ted Nugent. “Smoking Brownies – It’s Not Just For Cops Any More” will be the hot new bumper sticker. Shit, I really should have copyrighted that before I posted it here.

  5. I heard Cuban cigars are not good anymore because they over farmer and ruined the soil.

    1. I don’t know if they used to be good, but I always buy some in Cozumel and you can definitely get better than Cubans, at least for my neophyte tastes. The best ones I’ve smoked are Honduran and Dominican. I still buy at least one Cuban every time I go, because fuck the government, but at this point it’s just on principle.

    2. They’re not what they used to be. I prefer Nicaraguan and Dominican cigars but really it’s all personal preference.

      Cubans are the .50 cal Desert Eagles of cigars. People who don’t know anything about them think they’re are king shit because they saw it on TV.

      1. TV? The only place on TV I remember seeing Desert Eagle point five oh is Snatch. I mainly remember it from Counterstrike.

    3. Its been a long time since I had a Cuban cigar. It was a little different, but not “Holy shit, I can’t ever go back”.

      Then I realized that every real Cuban cigar I bought put money in the Castro crime family’s pocket, and I swore never to smoke another one.

      1. I guess that makes me a big supporter?

    4. I’ve had several and they were all good cigars, but nothing that really stood out among other decent cigars.

      Tobacco is pretty hard on soil, takes up a lot of nutrients, so if they aren’t rotating crops and just growing tobacco in the same fields every year, they may well have ruined the soil.

  6. Man oh man oh man oh man oh man.

    What a country.

  7. Funny how they were for sale on military posts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    When the DoD doesn’t realize it’s breakin the law, you’ve got some obscure bullshit.

  8. Radically vacuum pleasure from society to rule the lives of the simple most efficiently.

    This method of governmental subjugation continues to thrive and it’s sickening. Tolerating this fucking bullshit truly and sadly indicates the largely supine nature of humanity which rarely resists massing in the mysterious shadows of king and presidents.

  9. I never once bought Cuban cigars while in the Caribbean, carefully removed the label, and replaced the label with one from a Dominican cigar. Nope. Never. Who would do such a thing?

    1. Clever felicities trend madly among the pleasure pursuers, Blusterboy.

    2. Treasonous traitors.

  10. Not to mention we’re one of the only countries in the world where we are taxed on wages earned abroad.

    More money for the USPSA!

    1. The other being Eritrea if my memory serves correctly. You know it’s good policy if you got your inspiration from undeveloped shithole countries.

      1. Eritrea enforces their nonresident citizen taxes by passport confiscations, property confiscations, and harassment of relatives in Eritrea.

        Finland, France, Hungary, Italy, Spain, and Turkey also tax income of nonresident citizens under limited circumstances (usually for a few years or if they move to country designated a “tax haven”).

  11. The old rule notionally exposed Americans to criminal penalties for buying and consuming Cuban cigars while abroad.

    Good thing I never bought some cuban cigs while on a cruise and then proceed to smoke them with my lady on the deck of the ship at sunset.

  12. Land of the Free. Home of the Fleeced.

  13. I smoked Cubans regularly while living and working in a Japan. I knew about the law, and it rated about a 0.3 out of 10 on my Give-A-Shit-O-Meter.

      1. I was wondering how many Japans there were?

    1. But now you posted on Reason where references to woodchippers can get you served a court order.

  14. You know who else smoked Cubans?

    1. Batista?

      Fidel, if it’s neither too soon nor too late?

    2. George S. Patton?

  15. I’m overjoyed that I’m now allowed to do something that under any rational standard of sovereignty, jurisdiction and justice I was already allowed to do. The US federal government seems to think that they own me and can (tax and) govern my conduct and actions anywhere in the world, like China owning all the pandas. Fuck them.

  16. Cuba is a bad country that denies freedom to its citizens, so it was right for us to … um ….

    Look over there!

  17. effective today, the Treasury Department says, “persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction may purchase or acquire Cuban origin merchandise, including alcohol and tobacco products, while in a third country provided such products are consumed while in a third country.”

    Just remember, folks, to burn through all those stogies before you head back to the good ol’ USA! Otherwise Officer Friendly can (and possibly will) sling you in jail.

    Smoke ’em ifwhile you got ’em!

  18. Ok, ok, I’ll concede some Libertarian moment.

  19. I recently had the opportunity to bring some Cuban* cigars back to the US, but I was worried about getting caught with them, so I just smoked them before re-entering the country. Based on the thoroughness of the Customs inspection, I shouldn’t have worried. Bored-looking Customs officer: “Do you have anything to declare? No? OK, have a nice day.” *tosses Customs form onto his giant pile of forms without looking at it*

    * At least, I was told they were Cuban. Who the hell knows. I’m sure it’s easy to fleece the yankee.

  20. See, Obama is standing up for our freedoms after all! That’s why we voted for a constitutional scholar!

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