A group of cigar makers, brand owners and retailers are coming together to better represent the needs and concerns of the cigar industry’s smaller companies via the formation of the Boutique Cigar Association of America.

The organization was launched by Dr. Gaby Kafie of Kafie 1901 Cigars, with a focus on education, organization, and awareness as the group’s primary goals. While Kafie acknowledges that cigar companies of all sizes are in the same boat when it comes to regulations, the challenges of smaller companies—those producing less than 500,000 cigars a year–are unique, particularly when it comes to the financial challenges that come with FDA regulation.

Kafie felt that the cigar industry was lacking an organization speaking directly on behalf of smaller brand owners and manufacturers, and while he praised the work that Cigar Rights of America and other industry organizations have done, he felt that more can be done to protect and benefit the industry’s smaller companies. He said that while the messaging of the BCAA will be consistent with that of other cigar industry organizations, the time has come for the industry’s smaller companies to have a seat at the table and a distinct voice in the conversation.

As part of its launch, the organization has assembled an advisory panel of 10 members that includes brand owners, factory owners, retailers, an attorney who specializes in FDA matters, as well as a cigar importer. That group will be tasked with many of the foundational tasks of establishing such an organization, including picking a board of directors and leadership team, as well as establishing membership requirements for interested parties.

Kafie said that the board of directors will be comprised of retailers, brand owners, factory owners, import brokers, attorneys, and possibly cigar media. He noted that the definition of a boutique cigar company will be those that produce less than 500,000 cigars per year and membership will be limited to companies who fall underneath that threshold. While he didn’t have specific numbers as to how many companies would meet that requirement, he said there were at least several dozen who would qualify, and acknowledged that there could be many more companies that he isn’t aware of who would also be eligible to join.

The BCAA is currently working on forming a close alliance with Cigar Rights of America to continue the push back on regulations imposed by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Kafie told halfwheel that membership in the BCAA will involve being a member of CRA, adding that the membership cost will be affordable for smaller cigar companies.

In addition to assisting in the fight against government regulation of the cigar industry, the BCAA will have a focus on helping smaller companies with the numerous aspects of owning and growing a cigar company. He said that will include resources to help with importation issues and sourcing materials as well as business and retail relationships.

The group is currently reaching out to potential members via a Facebook page that was launched this week and is asking interested parties to make contact via its Facebook page until its website is launched in the next 30 days.


Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.