Cuba’s cigar makers say sales are increasing despite the effects of anti-smoking laws coming into effects in many countries.
Organisers of the annual cigar festival in Havana said sales rose two percent last year increasing in China and the Middle East.
Habanos, jointly owned by Cuba’s government and UK based Imperial Tobacco, dominates sales for hand-rolled, premium cigars, except in the US, and the company’s joint President Jorge Luis Fernandez Maique seemed unphased by new smoking restrictions in their number one customer Spain, where sales fell by a third in January.
He said: “There are anti-smoking campaigns but smokers keep finding legal solutions to smoke the products, whether it’s in places outfitted in accordance with the law. We have markets – like Spain, Germany, Belgium, Holland and others
- where they’ve really adapted to conditions and we expect the Spanish market will react the same way.”
China has now become the third largest market for Cuban cigars behind Spain and France knocking Germany down into fourth place.
Habanos generated 268 million euros in sales last year, an important source of foreign currency for the communist led island, but it is blocked from the US, the world’s biggest single consumer of cigars, because of a trade embargo.