Everyone knows that Cuban cigars are the most coveted cigars, renown worldwide for their smoothness and rich flavors. How do you tell if what you have is a fake or the real thing? First, make certain that you purchase your cigars from a legitimate dealer. Buying from your local tobacconist or a reputable mail order business can protect you from forking your money over for a box of fake cigars. Indeed, Cuban cigars are so prized that many illegitimate dealers have been known to sell fake Cubans to unsuspecting cigar smokers.

If you have an opportunity to purchase a box of purported Cuban cigars, but have your doubts, take the time to examine the box before purchasing it. A high quality cuban cigars will normally cost you between $18-25 US dollars. Here are a few tips to help you spot the fakes from the real Cuban stogie.

The most important thing to examine is the box. On the bottom of the box of cigars, you should find a heat stamp with the words ‘Habanos.’ The heat stamp should be impressed onto the bottom of the box. Fake Cuban cigar boxes often find other ways to imprint this label, such as using rubber stamps or paper labels. You should also find a factory code stamp at the bottom that is stamped in green, blue or black ink. This stamp will tell you when and where the cigars were rolled.

Authentic Cuban cigars will contain a green and white warranty seal on the left front side of the box. The seal will contain an insignia that has a picture of a shield and a hat. On the upper right hand corner of the box, you should find a white sticker that is placed diagonally with the word ‘Habanos’ printed on it. Even if the cigars are the real things, their quality may have suffered in transport. If you are in the market for Cohiba, Trinidad, or Q’dorsay brand cigars, know that all authentic Cohiba’s will contain the green and white warranty seal on the right hand side of the box.

The overall appearance of the box should be neat and clean. If the box appears damaged, smudged, frayed, or marked, avoid it. If the color of the box is dull, don’t buy it.

The bands on all the cigars should also be identical, and should be arranged so that they face the same direction. The Montecristo brand has made some minor change to its bands – the paper is now a shiny gloss similar to the bands of most of the other major labels, instead of the older plain matte finish. And, a “hook” has been added to the edge of the fleur-de-lis symbol.

If allowed, test the cigars out by pressing down on them. Feel along the entire length of each cigar, checking for soft or hard spots. The cigars should feel firm yet pliable. If you can open the box, take the time to smell the tobacco. Cuban cigars will have a deep, rich aroma, unmistakable to dedicated cigar aficionados. If the smell is off, or very weak, chances are you do not have a box of authentic Cuban cigars in your hands. The cigars should be facing the same way, and the top row may appear slightly flattened. The caps on all the cigars should appear identical, and the foot of each cigar should be cut clean.

Fake cigars cost manufacturers millions of dollars each year so it’s important to report fake cigars to authorities as soon as possible.  If you’ve bought a cheap cigar from your local corner store, chances are, they are fake.  Ask your vendor where they get their cigars from.  www.altadis.com is the official supplier of Cuban cigars in Spain and France. In the United States the company is known as Altadis USA – www.altadisusa.com and Habanos S.A. is the sole company in Cuba responsible for the marketing and promotion of Cuban cigars around the world.

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