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Cuban cigar sales jump 8% in 2013, says Habanos SA

Man's hands with Cuban cigars Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sales of Cuban cigars are still banned in the US, the world's biggest cigar market, due to an embargo.

Sales of Cuba's famous cigars jumped 8% in 2013, helped by strong demand from the island's smokers and China, said Habanos SA.

Total sales reached $447m (£269m) up from $416m in 2012, according to the firm, which is co-owned by Cubatabaco and British firm Altadis.

Europe remains the biggest market, but demand from China and the Middle East has helped boost sales.

Cuban cigars are still banned from the US market.

The results were announced at the start of the annual Cuban cigar festival, held in Havana.

The event draws visitors and participants from the around the world.

The US is the biggest cigar market, but is off-limits to the industry due to an economic embargo imposed on communist Cuba by Washington more than half a century ago.

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