Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Jack Nicholson, Summer 95
(continued from page 5)
I must confess that I am a cigar-loving immigration inspector stationed at Cincinnati International Airport, and as I write this letter I am enjoying a Dunhill Montecruz #210. I began reading your "Out of the Humidor" section in the March 1995 issue when I caught sight of the words "Customs" and "Cincinnati" in one of the letters. Aside from some of Mark Twain's tales, S.P.'s letter was one of the most interesting stories I have ever read.
S.P. and his friend seem to forget it is against the law to import Cuban cigars into this country, unless you are one of the few Americans permitted to travel to Cuba. Daisy, the Customs Service narcotics dog who alerted customs officers to S.P.'s friend, is unable to respond to S.P.'s letter due to anatomical limitations.
As a gentleman, I feel compelled to defend her honor. Daisy is trained solely to alert to the presence of narcotics and not to detect Cuban cigars. Your readers should know that Daisy has a success rate of over 90 percent, and the majority of the remaining 10 percent have admitted to using dope or being at parties or clubs where dope was smoked. If Daisy was trained to alert to the odor of tobacco, she would hit on me and several other officers who smoke.
I keep a full humidor of Dominican cigars in my cigar-friendly office, and usually smoke two a day. Never once in three years has Daisy expressed any interest in me or my humidor, although she does like my candy jar. Any Cuban cigars found during the course of a search for narcotics would be incidental. Never once in my long career with the Immigration Service, working side by side with the Customs Service, have I seen a person referred for search because the officer thought he/she was carrying Cuban cigars.
Customs officers are charged with the enforcement of the laws of the United States. They do not make the laws, nor are they allowed to interpret them. Until such time as the policymakers in Washington decide to lift the embargo against Cuba, as much as it pains some of us, customs officers will continue to seize and destroy Cuban cigars. I have personally witnessed the destruction of thousands of Cuban cigars, and in the case of a box of H. Upmann Sir Winstons, I was nearly brought to tears.
As I stated earlier, I truly enjoy a great cigar. I have resigned myself to the fact that Cuban cigars are not permitted to be imported into the United States, and until such time as they are, I limit myself to enjoying the fine cigars crafted in the Dominican Republic and Honduras.
What S.P., his friend and your readers must remember is that smuggling Cuban cigars, or any other items, into the United States is a crime. If you get caught, the cigars will be destroyed and all you will have left is a "lousy receipt." If you do get caught, please try to remember that the customs officers are just doing their job, and that, for many officers, destroying Cuban cigars is not something they look forward to when they get up in the morning.
Brian D. Nicholas
Cincinnati International Airport
K-9, U.S. Customs Service
Cincinnati International Airport
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