- The Washington Times - Friday, December 19, 2014

Cuban cigars may not yet be legal for domestic sale or import into the United States, but President Obama got a preview of what’s likely soon to come when a White House party guest handed him one of the sought-after stogies during this week’s Hanukkah celebrations.

“I had the unique distinction of gifting the president of the United States with one of Cuba’s finest cigars, a Montecristo Series at the White House … after a ceremony in which a Menorah was lit,” said John Berzner, after offering the president the cigar, ABC News reported.

And Mr. Obama’s response?

“Oh nice,” he said, the New York Post reported.

Mr. Berzner, a resident of Colorado, said he chose a cigar from his stash to give to the president before he left his home earlier this week for the White House celebration. At the time, he didn’t know that Mr. Obama was going to announce an attempt to normalize relations with Cuba and open the doors to trade — which could then allow Americans to import up to $100 worth of alcohol and tobacco products from the nation.

Congress would still have to lift the embargo. Time magazine said the existing laws banning trade with Cuba put a penalty for importing Cuban cigars at $250,000 in fines and up to 10 years in prison. The new rules that Mr. Obama wants OK’d would allow Americans to bring back up to $400 worth of products from Cuba to the United States, $100 of which could be alcohol and tobacco.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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