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An Interview with Oscar Boruchin

Owner of Licenciados and 8-9-8 Collection cigars.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Wayne Gretzky, Mar/Apr 97

(continued from page 17)

CA: You mentioned the problem with counterfeit Cubans. Is that a new phenomenon?

Boruchin: That never happened five years ago. This is happening since the Cuban cigars have become very popular, together with the cigar industry. Everybody sees it as an opportunity to make money.

CA: In terms of the counterfeit cigars in Miami, are they made in Cuba or are they knock-offs from other countries?

Boruchin: Some come from Cuba. They've been bought on the street there. But the majority are made in the Dominican Republic and Honduras.

CA: And the consumer doesn't know?

Boruchin: Don't forget that most of the young smokers have not been exposed to many Cuban cigars. They buy a box of Cohibas and they smoke a product that is not that great, but they really don't identify it that well. Like maybe you or I could identify it as a fake.

CA: Then they say a Cuban cigar is not so good.

Boruchin: But they like to go around with the band on. What they are trying to do is impress people with the fact they are smoking a Cohiba. Taste means very little. It's just showing off to their friends on Saturday night that they are smoking a Cohiba. They choose by the band.

CA: I get asked all the time by people to tell them whether the cigars are real or not. One guy swore his came from Cuba, and I asked him if they'd been bought in a store and he said, no, right out front. I knew immediately they were fakes. It seems the problem is out of control.

Boruchin: Every other Cuban cigar sold in Miami today is counterfeit. Especially the Cohiba and Montecristo labels. Those are the ones that you see the most. I haven't seen a counterfeit Bolivar, or some of the other brands that are not that popular. I have heard stories of customers of mine that have been hustled by clerks in stores in Cuba, like, "Why do you want to pay $250 [per box] for this cigar? I can get it to you for $70, $80 tonight, if you meet me at such and such a place." Because it's a store clerk offering this deal, people think they must be stolen from the store and are real. But that's not the case. The Cubans are very ingenious. They always were and that's the reason that they're so successful in exile. How they manage to counterfeit the boxes and the bands--this is something unbelievable.

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