Brazil lifts ban on sales of Cuban cigars

BRAZIL has stepped back from its prohibition on sales of Cuba’s Cohiba cigars. According to a statement, Justo Luis Fuentes Díaz, president of Tabacuba (Cuba’s tobacco enterprise group), told a press conference that the Brazilian government has stepped back from its prohibition on sales of the cigars in that country. Fuentes emphasized statements to Sputnik by Fernando Teixeira, executive director of Emporium Cigars which imports cigars to Brazil, in which he confirmed that the National Sanitary Vigilance Agency (Anvisa) “incorrectly interpreted the Cohiba formula and the situation has been normalised.”

On July 1, Brazilian media reported the prohibition on sales of Cohiba brand cigars, after Anvisa said an excess of sorbic acid, a natural substance used as a food preservative, had been found in the cigars.

“In May, the agency rejected Cohiba’s request to renew its registration and gave the company 30 days to remove all cigars from shelves across Brazil,” reads the statement.

“Teixeira confirmed that, the very afternoon of July 1, Anvisa withdrew the prohibition and authorised sales, since it had been proven “that Cohiba is 100 per cent natural, with no addition of other products. The presence of other substances is the result of the natural curing and fermentation process of tobacco.”

Fuentes also explained that the problem resulted from an erroneous interpretation of legislation based on standards in the cigarette industry, in which additives and flavours are used, leading to the mistake with Cuban cigars. According to the statement, the Cohiba trademark is internationally recognised and sold in all countries, with the exception of the United States, due to the economic blockade imposed by the US government on Cuba for 60 years.

“Tabacuba president Fuentes reported that the error was recognised and that production of a premium Cuban cigar is 100 per cent natural from the seedbed, to the fields, and throughout the export process,” reads the statement.

Leopoldo Cintras González, Habanos SA commercial vice president, added that 2018 was a record year for the company, stating, “We had an income of $537 million this period, with 7 per cent growth, as compared to the previous year at current prices, and 6 per cent at constant prices.”

He reported that some 450 million premium cigars (completely handmade) were sold, 140 million of these Habanos, and that this luxury sector grew by one per cent over the previous year, evidence of the strength of the 27 brands this joint enterprise handles, outstanding among which are the six with the most sales on the international market: Cohiba, Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, Partagás, Hoyo de Monterrey, and H. Upmann.

“Beyond the commercial results and value that Habanos SA contributes to the country, Cintras insisted that the industry is a source of pride, which his company jealously protects, ‘maintaining the highest quality standards for our brands, and all tobacco on the island’,” the statement reads.

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