Richard Blau Authors Article "Adios, Cigarros Cubanos (And Alcohol Too, Mi Amigos & Amigas)!"

By: Richard M. Blau, chair of GrayRobinson's alcohol beveragefood law, and cannabis industry departments

Politics continues to interfere in the orderly market for alcohol beverages, this time stepping into the barely relaxed market for rum, cigars and similar products from Cuba.

On October 14, 2016, President Barak Obama issued a directive that allowed Americans to engage in more commerce with the communist-run island, including allowing Cuban state-run companies to sell their most famous luxury products  - Cuban cigars and rum.  Almost four years later, the Trump Administration has repealed that opportunity.

The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) recently updated the agency’s FAQ G11 and FAQ T18 to reflect federal policy changes related to Cuba. Effective September 24, 2020, travelers returning to the United States may no longer bring back with them alcohol beverages, cigars and other tobacco products of Cuban origin for personal use.

Bottom Line: The commercial importation of alcohol beverages, cigars and other tobacco products made in Cuba remains prohibited.

Those with questions or concerns may contact the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury for additional information. See OFAC's Final Rule, "Cuban Assets Control Regulations" (September 24, 2020).

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