Hi Everyone,

It’s Charlie. I am the one that writes the first of these daily blogs. Over the course of four days you’ll get one of these from Brian, Brooks, Patrick and myself—basically just a few thoughts on how things are going and maybe some bigger thoughts stuff beyond the typical trade show coverage.

Mine is a bit different as it’s being written before the trade show floor opens and so it’s not obvious to me whether this will be a good trade show for the manufacturers, i.e., there will be lots of orders placed, or a bad one. Instead, I’m asked to set the table of what’s to come and after being in Las Vegas since Tuesday, hopefully I have some idea.

  1. International Attendance is Back — While it may not be apparent to most of the people attending the trade show, perhaps the largest change compared to the 2021 PCA Convention & Trade Show is the number of non-Americans that are here. As was noted last year, basically no Europeans attended the trade show due to COVID-19 restrictions in their home countries. That’s changed this year, but not only for the Europeans. Last year there was basically no one besides Americans and people from Latin America, that’s no longer the case and it’s for the better.
  2. Davidoff, Drew Estate and STG Are Here One Way or Another — While Altadis, Davidoff, Drew Estate and General Cigar Co. are not exhibitors—more on why those four major companies are not here can be found in this post—it’s not to say that they are not in Las Vegas right now. Davidoff has sent a couple of its retail personnel to attend the trade show, Drew Estate and Joya de Nicaragua have an offsite meeting area for international clients, and Room101, which was recently purchased by Scandinavian Tobacco Group—the parent of General Cigar Co. and Cigars International—is exhibiting.

    The impact of those four companies not exhibiting is very obvious on and off the trade show floor, but I think it’s really important to point out that it’s not fair to say that those four companies have zero presence here. It also highlights the fact that the issues those four companies have/had with the PCA Convention & Trade Show are not personal enough to warrant an outright boycott, rather, those four companies still cannot justify the costs associated with exhibiting.

  3. Arturo Fuente & Padrón’s Legacy Project is a Big Deal —I’ve long said I think that a company is best judged by its peers. If that’s the case, the Arturo Fuente and Padrón collaboration is a really big deal because just about every one of their competitors cannot stop asking about it.

    For those unaware, for more than two years, Fuente and Padrón have been working on a collaborative project that will be announced and shown off on Sunday. It’s two different 7 x 50 Churchill cigars that will come in a single 40-count box. And if you are wondering, it’s going to be very limited to the point where I wonder how many people are going to end up being disappointed by what should otherwise be a pretty special project. We’ll be able to talk more about this on Sunday though given the track records of the two companies, I’d be surprised if there are many people who actually are going to smoke either cigar this week.

  4. That FDA Thing — On Thursday night Rocky Patel told me he was a bit surprised that there weren’t as many people celebrating what is a major win in the cigar industry’s nearly six-year long legal fight against FDA. As I wrote on Tuesday, this is either a 9/10 or 10/10 best case scenario. I’ve spoken to more than a hundred people in Vegas for longer than two minutes and the topic has come up less than 5 percent of the time.It’s not good that so few people seem to care and I suspect that’s because so few people understand. This is admittedly par for the course, but I don’t think it’s a great attribute for the industry.
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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.