The quality issue can't be ignored, as well, with many cigar smokers finding that a Cuban cigar just isn't what it used to be.
Habanos S.A., the government-run company behind the Cuban cigar industry, has reported a substantial decline in sales for the second year in a row. In 2009, the company's top line fell 8% to $360 million, which came after a 3% drop to $390 milion from 2007 to 2008.
The embargo severely restricts access to American cigar smokers, who may purchase them outside the country or illegally at home, which means that Habanos relies largely on the non-U.S. market. Spain is Habanos' largest market, and a weak Spanish economy in 2009, characterized by rising unemployment, provided a tough environment for Habanos.
The travel market recession has also hurt Habanos, particularly in airport duty-free shops.
Habanos Vice President Manuel Garcia said during a news conference at the beginning of Cuba's five-day yearly cigar festival, "This is not what we were expecting, not what we hoped for anyway."