After five years, Tabacalera USA CEO Javier Estades is stepping down as Chairman of the Cigar Association of America (CAA). Estades will be succeeded by Swisher International CEO John Miller.

Estades was first elected chairman in 2006, and would become the longest-serving chairman in CAA history.

“There are some people in life who just get it,” said Craig Williamson, president of Washington, D.C.-based CAA in a press released. “We call them naturals, and for naturals, it just clicks – the long days, hard work and often tiring tasks comes easily.”

Williamson added, “For the past five years, the Cigar Association of America has been helmed by a natural – Chairman Javier Estades of Tabacalera USA. Javier’s caring personality, willingness to serve others, and deep understanding of our industry all contributed to his success as Chairman. 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.”

During his final remarks as Chairman, Estades pointed out the organizations victories and accomplishments:

“I believe I am passing a financially sound and strong association to my successor, John Miller,” Estades said. “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.

“This is due to our focus on building outside relationships with organizations that value partnering with us to fight for you – our members – and the industry,” he said. CAA also expanded and diversified as reflected by creating leadership roles for industry partners in the mail order, distributor and importer segments “which shows that we value these industry segments and also gives these industry members a voice.

“These include having health warnings thrown out, any product testing put off for the foreseeable future (or longer) and eliminating the recent SE deadline for premium cigars. We still have challenges ahead, and CAA stands ready to continue fighting against improper, overreaching efforts by FDA.

“Over the last five years, CAA has had a more than 90+ percent winning track record on fighting issues that would have negatively impacted our members and the industry,” he said, acknowledging supportive elected officials, CAA leaders including Craig Williamson, individual CAA staffers, legal counsel and others.”

The move was not unexpected as the CAA had indicated last month Estades’ term as Chairman was coming to an end.