Cuba is known worldwide as one of the countries that produce quality cigars. Cuban cigars stand out among many other cigars made in Cameroon, Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican Republic and Eastern United States, just to mention a few. Cuban cigars are usually rolled from tobacco leaves grown on different parts of Cuba. The wrappers, binders, and fillers are usually from Cuba or imported from other countries like Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. All Cuban cigar production is done and controlled by the government. Cuba manufactures a number of brands which are usually rolled in the different cigar factories in the country. The Torcedores, or Cuban cigar rollers, are claimed to be the most skilled rollers in the word. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Torcedores are highly respected in Cuban culture and society. In fact, they travel to different countries that produce cigars just to show them how to manufacture and roll cigars the Cuban way.
Traditionally, most Cuban cigars have been handcrafted but many industries are recently adopting new technology by making these cigars using machines. Christopher Columbus was the first European to explore tobacco on the island. The tobacco from Cuba was then exploited a year later to Europe with Spain being the first country to officially embrace smoking. Persia, Russia, Turkey and Japan then followed suit almost immediately. It is widely believed that the first tobacco plantation was planted in the 18th century before it started spreading westwards. The native Cubans viewed tobacco, also referred to as cohiba, as a miraculous medicine and hence used it in the many ceremonies that they held.
In 1717, King Felipe V of Spain declared a royal monopoly on tobacco, especially the Cuban tobacco. This lasted for almost a century. In 1817, the monopoly of smoking tobacco was lifted through the Royal decree. This was a major boost for Cuban cigars because it was able to export its cigars to the different countries in the world using the ports of Spain. The immigrants from the Canary Islands provided very cheap and easily available labor. However, in 1962 the United States government sanctioned the Cuban government because of its leadership by Fidel Castro, who was communist. This ban or embargo prevented the United States from legally buying Cuban cigars. The embargo still stands to date as it is illegal for United States residents to buy or import Cuban cigars irrespective of where the item is.
For many years tobacco has been the second largest Cuban export after sugar. The most production of Cuban cigars is done at the Pinar del Rio province. The Habanos and the Cubatabaco are the major two exporters and manufacturers of Cuban cigars. Cuban cigars carry a high status and are often imitated. Many reports suggest that 95% of Cuban cigars sold in the United States are counterfeit.