Cigar Aficionado

Fighting Fakes

Fake cigars are a persistent problem for cigar lovers, particularly cigar aficionados who smoke Cuban cigars. And while most of the blame lies on those who prey on consumers by peddling the fake product, some consumers are also guilty of ignorance.

I was reminded of this today by Greg Mottola’s fine article on the new and improved Cohiba Behike bands (read it by clicking here). Behikes, being among the most pricey and desired of Cuban cigars, are alluring targets for counterfeiters, so since their debut in 2010 Habanos S.A. has incorporated anti-counterfeiting devices into the cigar bands. They have just added more. But the world’s best anti-counterfeiting devices are rendered useless if consumers ignore them.

A few years ago I received a phone call from a friend, who was extremely excited. He had recently acquired a box of Cohiba Behike BHK 54 cigars. I asked him about the outer box and the code, which he didn’t have. I asked him about the price: $300 for the box. Then I asked him how many cigars were in the box, and he said 25. Red flags, anyone? 

I told him the cigars were fake. He insisted on showing me in person. We sat down a few days later, and I went over, in detail, point-by-point, all the things that were wrong with the packaging and the cigar bands. You can see the detailed photos in this story I wrote at the time. 

My point is this: if you are in the market for a Cohiba Behike BHK cigar, you really ought to know how the genuine product looks. You should know they come in boxes of 10, have holograms on the bands, have pigtails, and you should have a general idea of what they cost. I can’t tell you the number of times people have come to me with stories about buying cigars from an inside source who has a friend here or an uncle there, explaining the $100 price-tag on a box of Esplendidos or Serie D No. 4s, or the missing or improper stamps on the bottoms of their cigar boxes, or the missing row of dots on the Cohiba band. 

Do yourself a favor the next time you buy a box of cigars—be informed. Look at the photographs of the real cigar bands found in our magazine, go to a tried-and-trusted retailer to buy your cigars and if a $20 cigar is offered to you at $5 don’t waste your money. You’re not doing yourself or your friends any favors by buying counterfeit cigars. 

One of the reasons that cigar counterfeiters stay in business is because there is no shortage of people who buy from them. Help stop the problem of counterfeits and be an informed consumer. It’s your best defense.

"Hey! I'm a subscriber to CA since issue #1 and have been a serious collector and smoker for 40 years. I've met you a number of times at the Vegas Big Smoke where we chatted each time. You are very accessible, friendly, and your taste largely mirror my own. I know that you read and respond to these comments on your blog. I picked you as the guy to whom to send this. I saw the advisory that no "links" are allowed in your comments section, but, man, you've really gotta see this. I will mail you a DVD if you want. I also sent the link and comments to the general "contact us" option at the bottom of the first page, so maybe you can get it from there. Here's my entry for the Monte's (my Albuquerque B&M) cigar-related creative art contest for members of our private cigar club. Mine is me singing a cappella and dancing in full smoking jacket regalia to the tune of "Makin' Whoopee" by Eddie Cantor which I rewrote to be about a man in trouble with his wife for excessive cigar smoking, retitled,"Smokin' Cee-Gars". All my buddies at the cigar club thought that it was sufficiently hilarious and of sufficiently high quality, that it should be submitted to CA in case your guys want to use it. My daughter put it up on YouTube. Here's the link: PS: Keep watching after you think it is over!. I hope you can share it somehow with your readers of, and/or Please feel free to get back to me at any time. My email is:, and my cell# is: 505-350-8856. Thanks a million! -David C. Serna" —July 9, 2014 20:59 PM
"DAVE, You're right. The responsibility lies especially with us fellow BOTL/SOTL. By passing this information onto our friends and families, we educate them, and show/share our passion for fine hand-made cigars. Sadly, there will always be those who hold out hope that they got "the deal of the century" Great article!" —July 1, 2014 08:38 AM
"Great read David. It's sad how many fakes come into play and how many people want to "get a deal on the beach", or "know's a buddy that works for the Partagas factory". Thanks for sharing the info. I also really enjoyed the Behike Vids. " —June 16, 2014 21:22 PM
"Blain, One1, thanks for the comments. George there (sadly) have been fake Padrons. They have fought counterfeiters with numbers on bands and other anti -counterfeiting devices. " —June 13, 2014 08:20 AM
"Great advice... See P.T. Barnum quote about "Suckers" ." —June 13, 2014 05:52 AM
"You guys need to make a Cigar Aficionado cigar lab. We can all send you the fake cubans that we bought for a great deal from your friends friend or received as a gift from a friend who bought it on the beach for 5 bucks. I think I have about 10 fake cubans. I would actually like to know what kind of crap tobacco they are made of and who is making them. You can dissect the cigars and compare the guts as well as the labels to the real thing. (I always check your labels which you have posted on the site) It would make a nice article in the magazine or the web site. How long will it be before we see a fake Padron? " —June 12, 2014 23:37 PM
"Great advice. I'm embarrassed at the number of fake Cohibas I've been offered by friends returning from vacation who found a "great deal". Umm... no thanks. on occasion i've had friends offer to buy cigars for me while they are in Cuba and I have to clear to them to only by from the licensed shops and don't try and find me a deal - paying full price in Cuba is still a bargain compared to Canadian prices, as long as it's the real deal. " —June 10, 2014 13:33 PM