There's a famous story that in 1962, hours before he was to extend an economic embargo against Cuba to include all trade and all products, President Kennedy sent an aide to every cigar store in Washington, buying every available box of Cuban cigars. He reportedly stockpiled over 1,200 fine cigars using his insider information.
It's only fitting that another president is taking action to now make Cuban cigars more plentiful in the U.S., even if you won't find them for sale in cigar stores.
President Obama has signed a Presidential Policy Directive that further loosens restrictions on travel and trade between the United States and Cuba, and those who enjoy a quality smoke now and then might take notice of one particular provision. From now on, there is no limit on the quantity of Cuban cigars and rum American travelers may take home.
As many as your suitcase can hold
Previously, American travelers to Cuba could only return with $100 worth of alcohol and tobacco products. The measure is not a lifting of the embargo against Cuba – only Congress can do that – so you won't be able to find Cuban cigars for sale in the U.S. until the embargo is lifted. But the President would clearly like for that to happen.
“This new directive consolidates and builds upon the changes we've already made, promotes transparency by being clear about our policy and intentions, and encourages further engagement between our countries and our people,” Obama said in a statement.
The embargo was declared at the height of the Cold War, shortly after Fidel Castro seized power and alligned the island nation with the Soviet Union. In addition to cigars and rum, Cuban sugar has been excluded from U.S. store shelves.
There is growing support, mostly in the Democratic Party, for ending the embargo. The Miami Herald reports Patrick Murphy, the Democratic candidate for one of Florida's two Senate seats, has advocated ending the embargo. The Herald notes it's the first time a Florida candidate from either party has done that.