Javier Estades has stepped down as chairman of the Cigar Association of America (CAA). Elected in 2016, Estades, who is also CEO of Tabacalera USA, is the organization’s longest-serving chairman. He will be succeeded by John Miller.
At the CAA annual meeting Friday, Estades was lauded for his leadership and commitment to the cigar industry. “There are some people in life who just get it. We call them naturals, and for naturals, it just clicks—the long days, hard work and often tiring tasks comes easily,” said Craig Williamson, president of the CAA, which is based in Washington, D.C.
“Javier’s caring personality, willingness to serve others and deep understanding of our industry all contributed to his success as chairman,” Williamson added. “Javier served as our chairman during a rough and tumble time for our industry, while simultaneously running one of the most successful premium cigar companies in the world. His affable demeanor and steady hand have been critical to our continued efforts. As his time as chairman comes to a close, we owe him a great deal of gratitude.”
In his final remarks as chairman, Estades pointed to several hard-earned victories and accomplishments over the past half-decade for the cigar industry by CAA. “During my tenure, we faced a perfect storm of unprecedented regulatory intervention by the FDA, increases in taxes at state and federal level, a divided industry, the Covid-19 pandemic and more. Despite it all, here we are—alive and kicking and very proud of what we have accomplished.”
In recent years, CAA expanded and diversified by creating leadership roles for industry partners in the mail order, distributor and importer segments, among other initiatives.
Estades also pointed to a big win in the high court in Illinois and other litigation as a result of coalition building among like-minded trade associations as well as a strong state government relations program.
CAA wins at the federal level included having health warnings thrown out, having product testing put off and eliminating the recent “substantial equivalence” deadline for premium cigars. “We still have challenges ahead, and CAA stands ready to continue fighting against improper, overreaching efforts by FDA,” Estades said.