HAVANA (AP) -- Cuba says cigar sales rose last year despite the ongoing economic crisis in some of its most important European markets.
Representatives of state-run tobacco company Habanos SA report that sales totaled $416 million in 2012. That's up from $401 million the previous year.
The officials spoke at a smoky press conference held to kick off Cuba's annual Cigar Festival on Tuesday in Havana.
Some 1,500 participants from 70 countries are attending. The festival includes a sommelier contest, an exhibition of tobacco-infused cooking and an auction of humidors that can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece.
German tennis great Boris Becker, Cuban crooner Omara Portuondo and a trio of former NBA players including Seattle Supersonics star Gary Payton are among the announced celebrity guests.
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