Cuban Cigars

Winter 2009 CSANews Issue 73  |  Posted date : Dec 12, 2009.Back to list

Dear Bird Talk,

We have been members of the CSA for years and you have been very informative, interesting and helpful to us.

Thought some members would like to know about our misfortune at the U.S. border on our last trip.

We were going to the U.S. when a friend asked us to bring some Cuban cigars for her son-in-law, as a gift.

I went to the Cornwall information centre, where they called someone and told me that there would be no problem.

I bought six Cuban cigars and the store owner also told me that it would be OK, because the cigars had stickers marked "Montreal" and "Toronto."

We passed in Sarnia and, at the U.S. border, we were chosen at random to be searched. As we had not hidden the cigars, the officers found them and told us that they were not allowed in the U.S.

They sent us back to the Canadian border to dispose of the cigars and then asked for us to come back to be searched again. Or, if they confiscated them, I would get a fine and have a record.

We tried to help our friend and now I probably have a minor record in the U.S. and will probably get searched every time thereafter.

We were on our way to Arizona and Las Vegas, and we saw some international cigar stores selling Cuban cigars.

What an experience!

Denis Roy
Cornwall, ON


Response:
Ed.: In the United States, Cuba is a bad word; although there does seem to be a thaw in relations since Fidel Castro resigned. The new U.S. president, Obama, also seems to have a conciliatory tone to his rhetoric, so perhaps things will get better for everyone. I would not worry about a bad record. You met some very nice officers who only sent you back to Canada to fix the problem, so it is unlikely that they would "write you up." They do have full arrest and detention powers and we are foreigners in their country. We always recommend full compliance with all of their laws and regulations and believe in taking no small chances whatsoever.