03/03/13 - San Francisco Chronicle - Cuba's popular Habano celebrated
Billed as "the largest international gathering of enthusiasts of the best
cigar in the world: the Habano," Cuba's 15th annual Cigar Festival began on
Tuesday in Havana. It's a bash that attracts cigar aficionados from some 70
countries. The festivities ended Saturday with an auction of expensive
humidors that organizers hope will raise $1 million for the Cuban health
The annual event includes grand receptions, tasting rooms, visits to
plantations and factories, classes on how to roll cigars and a lavish
dinner that closes the festival. It's a paradise for smokers who bridle
under smoking bans. Participants can puff away at all events.
Cuba has produced some of the world's highest-quality tobacco since the
18th century, and the island's cigars are created using the same handmade
method dating back to the mid-19th century.
European countries are the largest market for Cuba's $416 million annual
cigar business, especially Spain. Cuba cannot legally export cigars to the
United States under a 51-year-old U.S. trade embargo. Cuba's most famous
cigar smoker, Fidel Castro, gave up smoking years ago.
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