Premium Cigar Association, Two Day Policy Summit

On November 16th and 17th, the Premium Cigar Association hosted the 2nd Annual Policy Summit, with Day 1 centered around US Domestic Policy and Day 2 focused on International Policy. 

DAY 1—US Domestic Policy: PCA hosted day one of the summit at the US Capitol Visitors Center. Joining PCA for opening remarks was Congressman Dan Meuser (PA-9), who is the co-chair of the Congressional Cigar Caucus. Congressman Meuser spoke towards the work of the Congressional Cigar Caucus and the upcoming work in the new Congress. 

Following the opening remarks, PCA’s Federal Consultant Patrick Anderson, and PCA Deputy Executive Director Joshua Habursky, provided a detailed overview of where premium cigars stand within the legislature, the courts, and the executive branch. They went into detail about the continuously proposed tobacco tax parity language, the latest litigation developments, and the FDA and their rule-making procedures. 

The domestic policy summit also included a presentation by Cigar Rights of America and a panel of Congressional Staff who discussed the challenges of the new Congress, cigar policy, and their members’ impact on cigars in the legislature.

Following day one of the summit, PCA was hosted by the Embassy of the Dominican Republic for a special reception at the Ambassador’s Official Residence. The reception offered guests Dominican food, rum, chocolate, and cigars. At the reception, PCA was joined by the Minister of the Presidency for the Dominican Republic, the Ambassador to the United States from the Dominican Republic, Congressman Dan Meuser (PA-9), and Congressman Byron Donalds (FL-19). During remarks, the Minister of the Presidency emphasized the cultural and economic impact of the US cigar market in the Dominican Republic. He also mentioned how President Luis Abinader presented a bill to declare cigars as a Dominican Cultural Heritage. This distinction emphasizes the importance of cigars to Dominican culture and soft power around the world. Ambassador Sonia Guzmán echoed the Minister’s comments on the importance of cigars to Dominican culture. Ambassador Guzmán also highlighted the cooperation between the Dominican Government and the PCA to tackle the growing threats. 

DAY 2—International Policy: Kicked off by PCA’s Executive Director Scott Pearce, day two of the policy summit focused on issues facing the premium cigar industry internationally. Day 2 streamed lived on PCA’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube feeds and is available for viewing here. The international portion of the summit was co-hosted by Light ‘Em Up Lounge. To begin the international policy summit, remarks were provided by a Minister at the Embassy of Honduras in the US Ricardo Lopez. These remarks highlighted the importance of premium cigars on the economy and culture in Honduras. 

The first panel was moderated by PCA’s Director of State Advocacy Glynn Loope and featured Carlito Fuente Jr. of Fuente Cigars, Abe Flores of PDR Cigars, and Omar de Frias of Fratello Cigars as panelists. The panel focused on conducting business in the Dominican Republic and covered the importance of engagement of industry members in advocacy and how each of them grew their businesses in the Dominican Republic. 

Next was a panel of international advocates moderated by PCA’s Senior Manager of Government Affairs and International Policy Ryan Parada. Parada was joined by Paul Varakas, the Director General of the ECMA, Guy Bentley of the Reason Foundation, and Colm O’Shea of the Small Guys Cigar Group and House of Horvath. This panel covered issues ranging from plain packaging to generational smoking bans and legislative initiatives around the world. 

The final panel was hosted by Reinhard Pohorec and covered environmental initiatives within the cigar industry. On this star-studded panel, Reinhard was joined by Nestor Plasencia of Plasencia Cigars, Tony Gomez of La Flor Dominicana, Philip G. Wynne of Felipe Gregorio, and Jeremiah Meerapfel of Meerapfel Companies. Panelists discussed a host of topics, but the primary focus was how the manufacturers support their employees, their land and the environment as a whole. 

To conclude the summit, Ambassador Sonia Guzmán from the Dominican Republic provided closing remarks, which emphasized the significance of the summit and the continued joint efforts of the Dominican Embassy and the Premium Cigar Association. PCA is honored to have been joined by the Ambassador, and thanks the Embassy, the Ambassador and their staff for the generous hospitality in hosting the reception and offering remarks during the summit.