The Jimmy Carter Years
During the Carter administration the ban on travel lapsed. Jimmy Carter was not one to create or continue blockades and military actions against other countries. He was more interested
in healing relations if at all possible. At that time, many people took advantage of the lapse in the law and traveled to Cuba. This, however, had no effect on the Cuban cigar laws and his lowering of the travel restrictions was immediately cancelled with the Reagan White House. Once again, it was legal to visit Cuba but you couldn’t spend any money without an ‘Ok’ from the US Government. This is still the case today.
Present day relations with Cuba
What is the current situation regarding relations with Cuba? There is an overall softening, but no change regarding Cuban cigar laws. You can find the specifics here: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/clearing/restricted/cuban_cigars.xml which is straight from the Department of Homeland Security. These people have the freedom to do almost anything they want to punish even small violations. To sum it up, they say you cannot bring back any Cuban cigars at all. You are not allowed to possess them. You are not allowed to smoke or buy them anywhere in the world. This means if you are in Jamaica and you buy a Cuban cigar and smoke it on the beach, you are breaking American law – if you are an American citizen, of course.
Misinformation about Cuban cigar laws still circulates. Whether it was ever legal or not to bring back $100 worth of cigars is now irrelevant. It is now without a question illegal to do so. You can’t buy them anywhere in the world if you are a US citizen, remember. There are reports of politicians bringing them back and smoking them and that Arnold Schwarzenegger has his own stash, but this may be true or not.
Cuban Cigar Restrictions
Technically, although an American citizen cannot even purchase or smoke a Cuban cigar while traveling abroad, there may not be any practical way to enforce the restriction. That being said, a cigar smoker who ever wanted to try a Cuban cigar may want to take the chance while traveling in other countries.
In conclusion, it is best to heed current Cuban cigar laws and be cautious. Things may change in the future, as so many of us would like, but we have to respect the realities of now. Observe the laws and stay out of trouble. Otherwise, you may have some regrets.