Counterfeiting has always been a serious problem in the cigar industry. Manufacturers put in countless hours blending, aging, and marketing their cigars to be purchased by enthusiasts all over the world. With that in mind, it is no wonder why companies like Altadis and General Cigar go to extreme lengths to not only find and reprimand guilty parties, but to also prevent their products from becoming targeted. The cigar industry has been picking up speed; expanding to new lengths and becoming more involved with creating more unique blends based strictly on quality, which has put even more emphasis on preventing counterfeits from appearing. However, counterfeiting unfortunately seems to be a problem that will likely never go away completely.
There are too many brands to name that have been "knocked-off" and sold as originals. Some of the more popular brands include Cohiba, Arturo Fuente, Montecristo, and Romeo y Julieta. In fact, in recent news, Altadis USA (makers of Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta) have recently gone on the offensive and tracked down individuals selling counterfeits. The most popular case to date would be the arrests of Allen Boyd and James David Joiner. Boyd was a manager at the Carolina Cigar Company in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Joiner was the owner of the Smoke Café, also out of Fort Lauderdale. Both individuals were secretly selling counterfeit Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, and H. Upmann cigars at their shops. More in depth, the two would disassemble and reassemble the boxes in the back of their shops and get them prepped for sale to the unsuspecting consumer. Representatives of Altadis visited each shop with undercover investigators who made purchases of the counterfeit product. On a side note, the investigators did not have to pay taxes on the cigars since the shop representatives waived the fee due to a cash payment. Each box was valued around $200 to $300 and was taken back to Altadis for a thorough examination. In conclusion, every box purchased was bogus. Both Boyd and Joiner were arrested and their counterfeit products were confiscated by authorities before any further harm could be done.
It is very hard to comprehend the mentality needed to rip off a premium cigar company; a group of individuals dedicated to providing cigar enthusiasts with a special luxury unlike any other. Likewise, cigar rollers work long and hard to meet the demands of their respective factory in regard to quality, construction, consistency, etc. The cigar industry supports hundreds of thousands of people, most of which live outside the United States. It is not a business for most of these individuals; it's a way a life. Given the levels of tradition and pride involved in creating a handmade cigar, counterfeiting can be considered an insult to the makers, as well as the end consumer.
Counterfeiting places a dark cloud over the art of a fine cigar, which has become a highly rewarding way of life for all of us, whether we are making the cigars or enjoying them. A cigar band represents more than a cigar, for it symbolizes proud, cigar making families and generations of passion, loyalty, and a commitment towards a time honored pastime. The counterfeit process hurts the entire industry, from the individual planting the first seed to the enthusiast enjoying their cigar on a warm summer evening. As a consumer, you too can help eliminate counterfeit cigars by supplying information on any cigar shops, stores, companies, or associates who are known for selling counterfeits. With the entire cigar community's assistance, the act of counterfeiting could be reduced to an absolute minimum.