The days of swilling smuggled rum and smoking illegally procured cigars are over: President Obama has officially lifted restrictions on Cuban rum and cigars.
Starting Monday, U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba will no longer be limited to bringing back just $100 worth of tobacco and alcohol. Instead, Cuban rum and cigars will now be subject to the same duties as alcohol and tobacco from other countries. In other words, most travelers coming from Cuba will be able to bring back as many as 100 cigars and several bottles of rum as souvenirs.
President Obama announced the U.S. would begin a process of normalizing relations with Cuba In December 2014. POTUS said in a statement that today’s announcement builds on that progress “to continue to facilitate more interaction between the Cuban and American people, including through travel and commercial opportunities, and more access to information.”
Authentic Cuban coffee recently came to the U.S. for the first time in 55 years — in the form of Nespresso pods, no less. So do lifted restrictions mean your local watering hole will suddenly begin pouring Cuban rum? Not just yet — commercial importation of Cuban cigars and rum is still illegal. Nonetheless, the new slate of regulatory changes will likely generate hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue for Cuba.
And the changes extend beyond rum and cigars: Time reports the lifted restrictions also make it easier “for the U.S. to import Cuban pharmaceuticals, Cubans to buy U.S. goods online and U.S. providers to work on Cuban infrastructure, among other changes.”
• President Obama Lifts Restrictions on Cuban Rum and Cigars [Time]
• Obama Lifts Restrictions on Cuban Rum, Cigars [USA Today]
• Statement by the President on the Presidential Policy Directive on Cuba [White House]