Cuban officials try to snuff out traffic in contraband cigars
HAVANA · Cuban customs officials seized almost 25,000 boxes of contraband cigars last year in efforts to decrease smuggling of the world-famous smokes, the island's domestic news agency AIN reported Tuesday.
Travelers to Cuba can leave the island with 23 cigars without receipts, but for any amount above that, they must have proof of purchase from cigar stores approved by Habanos S.A., Cuba's cigar marketing firm.
Cigars are one of the island's most important exports, worth about $340 million annually. But the prestige of Cuban cigars and a rise in tourism in recent years have combined to increase the black market for the product, prompting customs agents to tighten their controls.