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Cigars/Factory Box Code

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Question
Greetings - I was gifted a box of "Punch Punch" Habanos. Knowing that there are a lot of fake Cuban cigars on the market, the lack of a factory box code on the bottom of the box, has me concerned. The rest of the box and markings look legitimate and the cigars are high quality. The box date is "Feb 15 2013". Goverment stamp, bar code and other features are consistent with what I've seen in the past. A dealer told
Me that lack of a factory code does not mean that they are fakes.
Your thoughts, please? Thanks

Answer
Hi Lee,

Even though factory codes are constantly changed and no longer considered important, they still exist and are always printed on the bottom of the box.  The lack of a factory code is very suspicious.  It is possible that the box may have been a misprint (it's rare but can occur) so you will also need to look at the following factors to help determine authenticity:

The box date is fairly recent so does the box have the new 2010 hologram label?  This label has angled hologram corners as opposed to the rounded corners on the previous hologram/barcode label.  This new hologram label will also have a micro serial number printed within the image in various locations. (You can easily spot the number under the word "ZIGARREN", above the letter C in "REPUBLICA" and at the base of the tobacco field image.) If the box has the older hologram/barcode label, it is most likely questionable.  (If barcode label has the serial number, check the serial number at http://www.habanos.com/Sellos/Info/VerificaSelloCajon to see if the box is authentic.

If your box is the 25 count dress box version (you didn't mention if it was dress box or SLB), there should be an EAN-13 (UPC) code on the back of the box.  Habanos began adding the EAN-13 code in 2010 but counterfeiters have been known to still use pre-2010 boxes.  Post-2010 boxes that do not have this EAN-13 code are questionable.

The chevron sticker should read "HABANOS D.O.P." with the words "Denominación de Origen Protegida" underneath it.  This new label was implemented beginning in 2009 and appears on all current boxes now.  If your box is using an older chevron label, it is most likely counterfeit.

Because your box is dated 2013, it should have all the current labels. If it has any of the older labels, I would be suspicious.

I hope this helps. If you have any more questions, please feel free to just ask and I will be happy to help.

Regards,
James

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James Yee

Expertise

My main area of expertise is Cuban cigars and I can assist you if you have questions pertaining to Cuban cigars. I can also assist you with the following:

- General cigar-related questions and advice
- Humidor maintenance and troubleshooting (How to treat humidor mold, correct high/low humidity, humidor seasoning, etc.)
- Accessory maintenance and troubleshooting (Cigar cutters, hygrometers, humidifiers, etc.)
- Cigar restoration, preservation and troubleshooting (How to treat cigar mold/tobacco beetles, restoring vintage/dry cigars, etc.)
- Cigar/Brand identification
- Cigar etiquette

Unsure of a certain cigar brand? Wondering what a certain cigar tastes like? Have a question about Cuban cigars? Having problems with a humidor or Just let me know! I have smoked every brand of Cuban cigars and most reputable non-Cuban cigar brands on a regular basis so I know a fair bit about taste profiles, cigar etiquette and other fine nuances to cigar smoking. (NOTE: My main focus is on premium, hand-rolled cigars and not cheap, machine made, convenience store cigars.) IMPORTANT: PLEASE NOTE THAT I DO NOT PROVIDE CIGAR OR CIGAR-RELATED APPRAISALS. If you have a vintage cigar item and you want to know if it's worth something, please contact an antique dealer that specializes in "TOBACCIANA".

Experience

I currently have 19 dedicated years of cigar smoking and counting. I have smoked every brand of Cuban cigars and most reputable non-Cuban cigar brands on a regular basis so I know a fair bit about taste profiles, cigar etiquette and other fine nuances to cigar smoking. For 5 years, I studied with Cuban torcedores (rollers), catadores (taste testers) and revisadores (inspectors) on every aspect involving the production of the Cuban cigar and I am currently writing a book that will help beginners understand everything they need to know about cigars and cigar smoking.

Publications
Maple Leaf Gardens: Memories & Dreams 1931-1999 (1999; ISBN: 0920445616)
50 Things Every Guy Should Know How To Do (2006; ISBN: 0452286654)
The [London] Times (October 8, 2009)


Education/Credentials
B.A. University of Toronto

Awards and Honors
Allexperts Top 25 Shortest Average Response Time: 2008-2009
Highest Rank:
- 2008 - 6th Overall, July
- 2009 - 10th Overall, February

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