Hello from Las Vegas.

It’s the latest stop on my seemingly never-ending travel circus. I’m here for the 2017 Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE), which begins just around the time this post goes up. There’s likely to be one big TPE post after the show ends, but I figured I’d do some daily writing in the mean.


While we’ve covered TPE before, I imagine most of our readers have no clue what it is. TPE is a tobacco trade show hosted by Phillips & King International, a huge tobacco distributor based in California that is the parent company of Ventura Cigar Co. It’s a full tobacco trade show, similar to Inter-tabac, meaning there’s cigarettes, vapor, smokeless and of course, cigars.

It’s not a huge event for cigars, or at least that’s what I’ve been told, but there’s certainly some familiar names in attendance: Altadis U.S.A, Boveda, CLE, Colibri, Davidoff, Drew Estate, J.C. Newman, Nat Sherman, Oliva, Rocky Patel Premium Cigars and STG/General to name a few. Historically, it’s not been a place to debut products, though there’s always seems to be a few new items between the limited cigar attendance.

Phillips & King invites its customers, which include a full spectrum of tobacco stores to the trade show for both buying and education. It’s a short trade show running just Wednesday and Thursday.


This year, TPE is particularly interesting because of two things:

1. Phillips & King is reorganizing the trade show. In an effort to increase attendance, the trade show is now more segmented between the categories. This is similar to what happened two years ago at the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, when all of the vapor and hookah companies were placed in their own area. It will be interesting to see if this is seen as a step in the right direction or not, particularly given the uncertainty surrounding the vaping industry with the new FDA regulations.

2. TPE is hosted at the Las Vegas Convention Center. This is the same place that the 2017 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show will be, although from what I understand, it’s not the same hall. Still, that means many—including me—are here scouting out the convention center and the hotels.

A host of IPCPR staff members are here dealing with much of the outstanding logistics for the trade show, including the host hotel(s) and I’m sure they will be paying attention to how TPE functions inside the Las Vegas Convention Center.


1. The Westgate is Okay — For those wondering, the newly-remodeled Westgate is okay. It’s walking distance from the Las Vegas Convention Center and the rooms are nice and clean enough, though certainly a noticeable step back from the Venetian/Palazzo. My biggest issue with the Westgate is that the hotel feels like you are in Reno. I certainly will be looking at other options for halfwheel during the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.

2. Vegas Is Still Dry — While it’s cold here, 47 degrees at the moment, it’s still dry as can be. As I noted last year, I found myself chugging bottles of water before and after sleep during the summer. Last night I felt hydrated—not from alcohol albeit—and felt like I could bypass the summer routine. I woke up feeling dried out and have now chugged a bottle of water.

3. What a Weird Time to be in Las Vegas — I’m rarely in Vegas if there’s not a major convention going on and while I’m sure there’s something bigger than TPE at the moment, walking around major hotels at the strip led to an even more bizarre crowd than normal. The lack of convention-goers and younger people makes for some weird scenery, at least given my Vegas experience.

Avatar photo

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.