The three major trade organizations of the cigar industry have pledged a united front to respond to the regulations issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Today the Cigar Association of America (CAA), Cigar Rights of America (CRA), and International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers (IPCPR) issued a letter pledging unity. At the same time, each of the three organizations pledged not to take independent action.

Specifics of what the response will consist of or how it will be executed have not been outlined – something the industry as a whole has under criticism for what is perceived by many to be a slow response to the FDA. On the other hand, the industry has also been criticized for a perceived lack of unity in terms of the FDA response, so on the surface this appears to be a step forward in that direction.

The text of the letter appears below. The letter was signed by Craig Williamson, President of the CAA, J. Glynn Loope, Executive Director of the CRA, and Mark Pursell, CEO of IPCPR.

It has been a little over two weeks since FDA released the Final Rule regulating cigars and other tobacco products. The 499-page rule is complex and raises as many questions as it answers. As the three industry trade associations have said, issuance of the Final Rule is the beginning of a long process. We are issuing this joint letter to advise members of actions we’re taking on behalf of the entire industry.

We have all been hard at work to understand exactly what the rule requires, and to explain its various provisions to each of you. It is important to remember that, in many respects, the industry can continue doing business as it has — while certain provisions become effective this year, others do not become effective for a year or more. The associations have met, and are committed to working together to address the issues we have, so the industry may prosper and grow. We have experienced and dedicated staff and professionals assisting us as we continue to advise you on the meaning of various provisions, in order that each of you can determine how they apply to you. That process continues, and we will provide regular updates.

We all understand the uncertainty caused by this regulated environment. Successfully addressing the challenges presented, requires careful analysis, and patience. We believe the industry needs to work together, and the associations are exploring issues relating to compliance, including engagement with FDA for clarity and guidance, as well as other legal. legislative, and regulatory options moving forward. To that end, the members of the Boards of Directors of the three associations have agreed not to take any independent action, either in the courts or at FDA, while joint industry strategies are being developed, and request that other industry members also not take any such action. If you have questions, about this or the status of our efforts, please get in touch with one of the associations. As always, we thank you for your continued support.

CAA is an trade organization set up to represent the manufacturers and brand owners. CRA is an organization that represents the cigar consumers while IPCPR represents the retail segment.