Like other luxury products, such as watches, bags and clothing; cigars are heavily counterfeited, which results in billions of dollars in lost sales each year.
If you are a regular cigar smoker, then you’ve probably had first-hand experience with fake cigars, even if you didn’t know it.
With more technological machinery and tools at a person’s disposal, transforming a fake cigar to appear in an uncanny fashion can be executed effectively.
It’s estimated that roughly 90% of all Cuban cigars sold outside the country are fake. Even the non-Cuban brands that are held in high regard, such as Padron and Fuente, are also being heavily counterfeited.
To combat this widespread problem many brands have even started printing serial numbers on their cigars.
Counterfeit Cigars in Cuba
In the Havana you’ll probably expect everything to be of the highest quality; however, even professional cigar rollers are in the business of counterfeiting. The average Cuban cigar factory worker gets paid roughly one to two hundred dollars per month, so it’s hardly surprising that they try to earn a little more keep.
Cigar factory workers will often sell their own counterfeit cigars in the streets at a price of twenty to fifty dollars per box. These cigars are usually either smuggled out of the factories by the workers, or made by them in their homes using stolen tobacco, boxes and bands.
While sometimes they can be legit, it’s a rare occurrence, and more times than not they’ll fail to impress.
Even in a cigar bar you can’t always expect the real deal. The truth is, if people knew how much authentic Cuban cigars really cost, they probably wouldn’t buy them. In addition, if they don’t have the Cuban label, people simply won’t be interested.
The first and most obvious clue when spotting a fake is the price. If someone offers to sell you an “authentic” box of cigars by a popular brand at a fraction of the price, they are probably fake. If something is too good to be true, then it probably is.
In the Havana you should expect to spend a minimum of 200 to 400 dollars; in Europe 250 to 600 dollars; and in the United States, even more. Counterfeit products, such as cigars are a huge industry and are going to continue to grow.
Normally pricing is the biggest component that identifies products as being fake, however with locations like newsagents and small town shops, they will accept cheap, competitive orders due to a small budget.
The next biggest clue is the appearance and construction of the cigar. If they aren’t uniform with all of the other cigars, they are fake; if some are light and some are dark, they are fake; and if the wrapper leaf doesn’t have a smooth appearance, they are fake.
In addition, the outside leaves should be uniform in colour with no chalky or dry texture. No high quality cigar manufacturer would let a cigar hit the shelves that doesn’t make the grade. Lastly, another trick to perform is to inhale deeply as you open the box: it shouldn’t be less than rich aroma.
The packaging can also provide even more clues. For example, not all cigars are supposed to be wrapped in cellophane or come in overtly luxurious boxes.
Furthermore, the bottom layer of cigars should appear in the same condition as the ones on top and remain undamaged Cohibas for example are packaged in a plan varnished box, so if you see them being sold in boxes with fancy glass tops or in tubes, they are probably fake.
The best and only way to avoid getting tricked is to buy cigars from reputable sellers – stores that are authorized by Casa Del Habano dealers. In addition, many Internet and mail order services, such as The Cigar Club, are legitimate.
Fakes more commonly show up in bars, restaurants and unspecialized Internet stores.
The internet is probably the one place where consumers are considerably naïve as products can appear legit. Furthermore, consumers continue to explore the internet due to its convenience, however when purchasing cigars, physical or trusted stores is the best option.
In the seasonal times of the year, this is when counterfeit purchases are raised rapidly with presents being bought.
Remaining vigilant and thoroughly analysing the products is key, just to ensure they are not fake. Lastly, health is at risk when inhaling counterfeit cigars as scammers load these products with a mixture of ingredients that could be harmful to your body.
At the end of the day the most important aspect isn’t whether the cigar is fake; it’s whether you enjoyed the taste.
While many fakes will still have Cuban tobacco, the consistency and taste will be slightly off – like making a carbonara without an egg. If you really treasure the cigar smoking experience, then this is simply not good enough.
About The Author
James Timpson is a avid writer in the fields of business, lifestyle and entertainment. Devoting most of his time to writing he like to engage with his readers by talking about ‘real-life topics’. Just liek this article, the majority of James’ articles provide tips and advice for to help you gain a better understanding of the topic. Outside of work James is a huge football fan and I loves to spend time with family and friends.