Just about 3 1/2 years after its founding as an organization to better represent the needs and concerns of the cigar industry’s smaller companies, the Boutique Cigar Association of America has announced that it will be shifting its focus to becoming a more socially-oriented organization. Its founder and president, Dr. Gaby Kafie of Kafie 1901 Cigars, also announced that he will be stepping down so that he can focus on his business and family.
“After four years of being active defenders and participants in the process of challenging the over-reaching FDA regulations on premium cigars, the BCA finds itself in a blessed position,” Kafie wrote in a press release. “Our goals in the short term have been achieved,” he added, noting that with FDA’s decision not to enforce all tobacco regulations on premium cigars has bought the industry some time before substantial equivalence testing will be implemented.
He also cited the work of Cigar Rights of America (CRA) and the Premium Cigar Association (PCA) in helping to properly define premium cigars in the eyes of the FDA, removing them from being lumped in with other tobacco products. In particular, he praised Glynn Loope for his work defending the rights of cigar smokers during his time with CRA and inspiring the foundation of the BCA. He also recognized a number of cigar companies both large and small who supported the goals of the BCA.
While acknowledging major wins for the industry as of late, he cautioned that the fight was not over.
“I firmly believe the fight is not over, it never will be. In the near term there are no threats on the horizon. For this reason, I have decided to shift all of my focus to our business, Kafie 1901 Cigars & Kafie 1901 Coffee, and my family. I am officially stepping down as the head of the BCA, and the focus of the BCA will shift to a more social one,” Kafie said.
Kafie noted that the decision comes after consultation with the BCA’s board members, and a decision that the BCA would no longer exist as a nonprofit organization. He said that the BCA will now serve as a social platform for small cigar brands and producers, while keeping an eye on the future needs of its constituents, including a possibility of reviving its lobbying efforts. He added that the BCA will continue to be a voice for small businesses, and its members will still be called upon to be a voice for the small business community, whether at the local, state or national level, and its members will continue to make themselves available to do so.
The BCA was founded with a focus on education, organization, and awareness as the group’s primary goals, with an acknowledgment that while cigar companies of all sizes are in the same boat when it comes to FDA 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 regulation. He felt that there was a unique need among this segment of manufacturers to be both organized and recognized among the larger companies.