Cuba says cigar sales $416 million last year

02/27/2013 12:28 AM

02/27/2013 12:30 AM

Cuba says cigar sales rose last year despite the ongoing economic crisis in some of its most important European markets.

Representatives of state-run tobacco company Habanos SA report that sales totaled $416 million in 2012. That's up from $401 million the previous year.

The officials spoke at a smoky press conference held to kick off Cuba's annual Cigar Festival today in Havana.

Some 1,500 participants from 70 countries are attending. The festival includes a sommelier contest, an exhibition of tobacco-infused cooking and an auction of humidors that can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece.

German tennis great Boris Becker, Cuban crooner Omara Portuondo and a trio of former NBA players including Seattle Supersonics star Gary Payton are among the announced celebrity guests.

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