Cuba announces plan to boost cigar output
HAVANA (AP) -- Cuban officials plan to produce 200 million cigars in
1999, double the level of two years earlier, the semi-official newspaper
Trabajadores reported Monday.
Cuba produced 160 million cigars in 1998, according to Osvaldo
Encarnacion, director of the Union de Empresas de Tobaco, as quoted by
Trabajadores -- the only national newspaper published on Monday -- said
the rise in production was aided by increased planting of tobacco in central
and eastern Cuba, beyond the tobacco heartland of Pinar del Rio province
in western Cuba whose cigar tobacco is generally consider the world's
The provinces of Villa Clara and Sancti Spiritus in central Cuba combined
for 55 million cigars this year, according to the newspaper. It did not give
breakdowns for other areas.
Pinar del Rio still produces the tobacco for Cuba's costly, top-line cigars.
Tobacco from other regions is often used for cheaper machine-made cigars
or for those sold on the domestic market.
The country now has 43 tobacco factories, up from 17 in 1994, and plans
add 11 more this year, the newspaper said.
Trabajadores is the official newspaper of the Cuban Workers
Confederation, which is linked to the Cuban Communist Party.
Though banned in the United States under a decades-old economic
embargo, Cuban cigars are highly prized by some smokers.
Gordon Mott, managing editor of Cigar Aficionado magazine, has said most
Cuban cigars are smuggled into the country in small quantities by individuals.
He estimated between 6 million and 8 million are brought in yearly.
Copyright 1999 The Associated Press.