24 Feb 2009

Cuban cigars feel pinch of slowdown

3:42 pm on 24 February 2009

Sales of Cuban cigars dropped by 3% to $US390 million in 2008 under the effects of the world financial crisis and the spread of anti-smoking laws.

Distributor Habanos says the fall in sales reflects a more general decline in the market for luxury products.

However, vice-president Manuel Garcia expects to maintain sales in 2009 at 2008 levels.

Mr Garcia says three hurricanes last year did minimal damage to supplies in the main tobacco growing state of Pinar del Rio.

Thousands of curing barns were damaged by the storms, but most were rebuilt in time for the curing season.