No cigar: U.S. travelers can’t buy Cuba tobacco abroad

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Sorry Metro Detroit travelers: It is still illegal to buy Cuban cigars in Windsor and bring them back to Michigan.

The Obama administration announced that approved travelers to Cuba will be able to import up to $100 in cigars and alcohol after returning from the island. That’s a change from the current policy that says if a licensed traveler goes to Cuba under one of the 12 approved categories, they may purchase cigars for personal consumption in Cuba, but can’t bring them home.

When the current federal regulations are officially amended, the Obama administration will permit authorized travelers to return to the United States with up to $100 worth of cigars and alcohol purchased in Cuba — but only for personal consumption — and not for resale. Travelers will be able to bring up to $400 worth of goods back from Cuba in total.

Many shops in Windsor advertise Cuban cigars, but the rule change doesn’t mean Americans will be able to take advantage.

A U.S. Treasury spokesperson told The Detroit News that “only authorized travelers will be able to bring back up to $100 worth of tobacco and goods for personal consumption (not re-sale). This does not apply to those traveling to other countries.”

The U.S. Treasury notes that under the law it is illegal for U.S. citizens to buy, sell or trade illegally-imported Cuban cigars. The government can seize the cigars and impose civil fines of up to $55,000 per violation and also subject violators to criminal prosecution. The rules have been in place since 1963.