It is a known fact that Cuban Cigars, much like electronics, clothing and other goods unfortunately fall victim to the seedy world of counterfeiting.
Cuban Cigar boxes, packaging, certification and the cigars themselves have been counterfeited heavily, and some cigar smokers have paid top dollar for poor quality fakes.
It's not a simple task to sample a Cuban Cigar before purchasing in your local cigar shop, but being aware of important tips on how to spot fake Cuban Stogies is half the battle. So before you partake in some quality Havana Cigars, remember the following tips.
There are several combinations counterfeit Cuban Cigars are under to try and fool the avid cigar aficionado: Fake box and fake cigars, real box and fake cigars, fake box, fake cigars and a fake guarantee seal, real box, fake cigars, and fake guarantee seal. When purchasing boxed Cuban Cigars, remember the following.
- Authentic boxes of Cuban Cigars have a government guarantee seal called a "dollar," because of the green ink that's used to print them. A law was enacted on July 16th, 1912 that stated that this sello de garantia nacional de procedencia seal must be affixed to the left corner of a box, or the right corner for cabinets of 50. The seal will say "Republica de Cuba" and not anything else such as: "Vuelta Abajo" or some other province of Cuba.
The inscription will be translated into English on the top of the seal, French on the bottom left and German on the bottom right. Also, you will find a seal stating "Habanos," which will be located on the right hand corner for boxes, or the left hand corner for cabinets of 50. The seal is white with gold borders, with "Habanos" printed in Red with yellow shadowing. For cigar smokers in Europe, look for boxes that may also have the stamp of the importer's code and a smoker's warning.
The official seal used on authentic Cuban Cigar boxes must look like the following.
- On authentic Cuban Cigar box bottoms there is a seal, engraved or burnt onto the wood, with the following inscriptions: Habanos s.a. (Cubatabaco, on older boxes), Hecho en Cuba, Totalmente a mano when applicable. Also, factory and date codes are stamped on the bottom.
This seal used on authentic Cuban Cigar boxes must look like the following.
- When looking inside the box, see that the rings form a perfectly aligned row across the cigars. If there is a band of waxed paper between the two rows of cigars, be sure to notice that the dimensions of the paper are exactly the same as the box itself and this band should have a small tab located in the upper right hand corner. The golden rule is if the packaging is authentic, the cigars will be authentic as well.
In addition to possibly being prosecuted for possessing stolen goods, there are some other "surprises" you could be in for when buying fake Cuban stogies.
- The filler used in counterfeit Cuban Cigars is not just tobacco, it's a combination of old banana leaves, fabric, and other "substances" that I won't mention here.
- Tobacco Beetles and mold! Counterfeit Cuban Cigars are not under the same quality control guidelines as the authentic ones, therefore the fakes are not thoroughly inspected for the little tobacco chewers and mold prior to distribution. The chances of a Tobacco Beetle infestation are much greater if you buy fake Cuban Cigars, as opposed to authentic. If you buy fake Cuban Cigars, they could look like this when they arrive!
When purchasing Cuban Cigars, be sure to remember the following.
- Buy Cuban Cigars from well established and trusted sellers. Not only are they bound by 100% professionalism in what they sell, they are also bound by law.
- Try to avoid buying Cuban Cigars over the internet, unless you are 100% sure of the sellers reputation.
- Do not fall for the "one time sale" that claim to "beat out the competition," As much as we wish this to be so, authentic Montecristo Cuban Cigars are not sold at a third of their value.
- Beware of individuals who try to sell you a portion of their stock. Just think about it, why would they want to make less money, when they can make more?
These are but a few handy tips the avid cigar aficionado can use to avoid being scammed when purchasing authentic Cuban Cigars, so enjoy those authentic Havanas!