My second full day covering the TPE 2021 Convention did not start with nearly as much chaos as the previous day and I was able to make it to the show floor before it opened.

After stopping by the media room to work on a few things, my first stop was the Plasencia Cigars booth, where I talked with owner Nestor Andrés Plasencia about a new technology his cigar company will be implementing for one line of cigars.


While I spent most of my day visiting cigar companies, eventually it was time to start covering my main subject for the day: a discussion on the two different types of companies exhibiting at the TPE show this year, how those companies differ from one another and—perhaps most surprising—how they may be more similar than they first appear.

As I wrote yesterday, the premium cigar section of TPE this year is actually quite small relative to the rest of the show, which includes a large combination of vape companies, CBD and cannabis-related items. While walking around the latter section the differences are quite striking, where moving from one row to another is almost like entering a portal to an entirely different world, leading to the following observations.

  • The Industries are Largely Trying to Talk to Different People — Sure, it is fairly obvious, but nevertheless, the juxtaposition between the overwhelmingly traditional cigar industry with its predominantly earth-toned booths compared to the almost overwhelming number of colors, contrast and psychedelic logos used by the businesses in the rest of the building is almost a shock to the senses.

    The major players in the cigar world are dressed in suits and ties and sit in comfortable leather chairs for long stretches to conduct business, while the booths that make up the latter businesses—as well as the customers—are full of young, sometimes scantily-dressed people that may or may not have multiple tattoos visible.

  • But That’s Not Because the People are Different — One of the most interesting facts I found out while talking to various people on both sides of the building is that one company named Greenlane Holdings Inc.—a public company traded on the NASDAQ—that has begun to add cigar industry veterans to its roster: Michael Cellucci (Drew Estate/Quality Importers), Selim Hanono (Camacho/Drew Estate/AJ Fernandez/E.P. Carrillo) and Rich Krutick (Davidoff).

    The influence from their former jobs was extremely obvious in at least one way when you looked at Greenlane’s TPE booth, which instantly reminded me of the design of Drew Estate’s New York bridge booth that was used at a few years of the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.

  • Some of the Marketing Would Not Go Over Well in the Cigar Industry — While most premium cigar companies try to stay as far away from anything that could be construed as “marketing towards children,” the vape and CBD companies aren’t as fearful.

    Want a product that carries the logo of a neon green gummi bear? Then Lost Gummiez has a product for you. Think you might be more suited for a company that copies Apple when it comes to its products and advertising? Blown may be right up your alley. Love The Walking Dead but also like to get high? You may be interested in Cannibeast.

Editor’s Note: Part of the reason why the CBD companies, in particular, aren’t as fearful is that FDA is not currently regulating CBD. — C.M.


Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.