NEWS

Cuba, U.S. trade negotiations 'fantastic', says Vancouver cigar seller

12/19/2014 04:18 EST | Updated 02/18/2015 05:59 EST
For decades, American cigar lovers have relied on Canadian stores for their supply, but business is about to change.

U.S. President Obama has announced moves to normalize diplomatic and economic ties between the countries, including efforts to to ease a 54-year-old trade embargo.

Under the new rules, U.S. travellers to Cuba would be able to bring up to $100 worth of Cuban tobacco back home with them for personal use.

The move has been a long time coming for Paulo Agelidis, owner of Revolución Cigar & Fine Gifts in Vancouver's Yaletown neighbourhood, who attended a cigar seminar in Cuba discussing the possibility of the embargo being lifted — a decade ago.

"I remember them actually saying if the embargo lifted, the demand for cigars to the U.S. would be huge and that they felt they wouldn't be able to supply it," he told The Early Edition's Claudia Goodine.

"It could actually even drive up the price of cigars. That would be a scary thing, I wouldn't want to have that happen."

Agelidis said since then, production of cigars in Cuba has gone up, so he's not too worried.

"Initially I was kind of concerned about it, but no, I think it's a fantastic thing. It's a real big change in the times."

Agelidis has sold cigars to a number of American celebrities, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Halle Berry, Harrison Ford and John Cusack. He said his favourite brush with fame was DiCaprio, who he described as being "down to earth."

"It doesn't matter who you are, what you do, just the cigar culture and the people that I've met through smoking cigars -- you have that one thing in common. It's a beautiful experience of sharing," Agelisdis said.

"When you have that cigar it automatically creates a connection between people. You're able to relate and I think relating is a good thing. It can make a big difference in the world."

To hear more of Paulo Agelidis' reaction to the U.S.-Cuba announcement, click the audio labelled: Paulo Agelidis on changes to cigar business.

MORE:cbcNews