LOS ANGELES – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fired up a stogie during his trip to Canada this week, but did he break U.S. law to do it?
The celebrity governor known for his love of premium cigars was headed to the Ottawa airport Wednesday when his motorcade made a detour to a hotel. There, Schwarzenegger picked up a Cuban Partagas cigar in a shop, with the $14.83 bill paid by an aide traveling with him, the Ottawa Citizen newspaper reported.
Under trade restrictions, U.S. citizens are prohibited from buying Cuban cigars anywhere in the world.
Schwarzenegger's office wouldn't confirm or deny that the governor indulged in a forbidden smoke while in Canada, where he was on a trade mission.
"He stopped and bought a cigar and smoked it on the way to the airport," spokesman Aaron McLear said.
Was it a banned Cuban cigar?
"There's no way of telling now because he smoked it," McLear said.
A message left at the shop wasn't returned Friday.
Americans convicted of violating trade regulations can be sentenced to fines or prison, but it wasn't clear Friday if a U.S. citizen had ever been prosecuted for lighting a Cuban cigar in another country. Cuban cigars are imported into Canada legally.
"Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction are prohibited from purchasing or importing Cuban cigars, regardless of where they are," U.S. Treasury Department spokeswoman Molly Millerwise said in a statement.
The long-standing U.S. ban on prized Cuban cigars hasn't stopped a black-market trade, and numerous Internet sites offer cigars for sale purporting to be from Cuba.
Schwarzenegger favors costly Daniel Marshall cigars with personalized labels, but he has told Cigar Aficionado magazine he enjoys Cohibas and Montecristos, legendary brands from Cuba.