President Obama lifts restrictions on Cuban cigars and rum

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HOUSTON - Paint this picture in your head, a Cuba Libre drink in your right hand and a Cuban cigar in your left, just sitting back and relaxing.  Sound good? Well, that's now very much a possibility.

As part of an executive action from President Obama, restrictions on Cuban cigars and alcohol are being lifted.  Starting Monday, visitors to Cuba can bring back large amounts of rum and cigars to the U.S.  Those items can also be purchased in other countries besides Cuba and be brought in.

"Cuban cigars, there's a character to the flavor, a smell to the smoke that's undeniable," Peter Sodeika, a customer at The Briar Shoppe in Rice Village said.  "You can't mimic it. There's a certain pungency, an earthy quality, a spiciness to it."

The key is the items will only be for personal use, and won't be able to be bought online or in a U.S. store.

The U.S. Cuba embargo remains, but these actions follow in a series of moves since 2014 when President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced the normalization of relations between the two countries.