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Tobacco Fairs, Free NRT and Few Vapes: A Conversation in Cuba

Winning a prize for my laughable “dancing” skills at a bar in Havana was a major surprise. But it should have surprised me less that the gift bag I was awarded contained a box of cigarettes.

Tobacco is firmly entrenched in Cuban culture. The country is famous, of course, for its cigars, and its tobacco crop is one of its largest sources of income from foreign trade. Cuba’s smoking rate, as of 2015, was 37 percent. Although it’s gradually falling, it’s about three times higher than in the United States. Almost 20,000 Cubans die of smoking-related causes each year.