Obama administration lifts restrictions on Cuban cigars, rum

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WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Friday lifted restrictions on Cuban cigars and rum.

The move was part of a new round of executive actions by the administration to increase trade and travel with the communist island.

The new rules go into effect Monday. It will allow travelers to purchase unlimited quantities of Cuban cigars and rum in any country where they are sold as long as they are for personal consumption.

Now the bad news: Cigars and rum can't be ordered online and shipped to homes.

But, cigar smoker Michael Morris of Denver says it's easy to buy genuine Cuban cigars online, because he does it on a regular basis. Just ask around at your local cigar shop.

"I would say it's easy if you make a concerted effort and do a little bit of research and find some legitimate sites," Morris said.

It's another in a series of steps taken since Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced in late 2014 that the countries would normalize relations after more than a half century.

"Challenges remain -- and very real differences between our governments persist on issues of democracy and human rights -- but I believe that engagement is the best way to address those differences and make progress on behalf of our interests and values," Obama said.

"The progress of the last two years, bolstered by today's action, should remind the world of what's possible when we look to the future together."

There has been a five-decade ban on Cuban cigars and rum. It was partially lifted in January 2015 when Americans traveling directly to Cuba to return home with up to $100 in cigars and rum.

Normal limits on duty and tax exemption will still apply, the Treasury Department said.

Cigar insiders say this isn't the door opening wide on the cigar embargo, but somebody is certainly turning the handle.

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