There was a time—maybe five years ago—when I spent one half of one day of TPE sitting in the Oliva booth watching a Champions League soccer game on my iPhone. There was—to put it mildly—not a days’ worth of work to be had, and as such, watching soccer during day two was a responsible option.

That is not the case anymore.

If you had asked me a week ago to predict how much work I would have had at TPE 2022, I would have ended up being pretty wrong. Between Monday and Tuesday, we published more than 20 posts on halfwheel, most of them related to new products debuting at TPE 2022. So by midday Tuesday I had a decent idea that this TPE would be very different from the TPEs I’ve been to, i.e. the shows that took place between 2017-2020.

I’d guess there were fewer than 10 premium cigar or premium cigar-related products debuting during TPE 2020, my most recent trip to TPE. This year, my guess is the number will be somewhere between 40-60. That means that the days of spending 30 minutes aimlessly conversing with random people in the cigar world are a distant memory, and instead I closed out Wednesday wondering whether I’d have enough time to get to the booths I was scheduled to visit by the time I leave Vegas on Friday.

If you are wondering what’s new, Patrick and I are regularly updating this post to document all the new stuff.

Here are some other takeaways.

  • TPE Knows How to Throw a Party — I could see the scope of this party’s expansion building over the years. It started as an awards ceremony presented by Tobacco Business—owned by Kretek, the same company that owns TPE—that seemed largely as a way to convince cigar company owners to attend TPE in exchange for giving them a trophy, one of the more hilarious quid pro quos I’ve witnessed. Now, the trophies are gone, replaced by an event that has thousands of people, an impressive spread of catered food, nightclub-esque lighting, large screen LED graphics, and live music, all set around the pool at the Sahara. It wasn’t as high-brow as some of Davidoff’s famous dinners, but this party was as impressive as any I’ve seen hosted at a trade show, particularly considering it was free for attendees.
  • There Are a Lot More Cigar People Here — Quite frankly, too many. It was tough to get close enough to photograph products at numerous booths, let alone trying to talk to the people at said booths. (I use that term loosely as some of these booths are more or less a table with some shelves.) TPE estimated that there will be roughly 1,000-1,200 people at the show who are here as premium cigar-related attendees, a number that includes exhibitors, retailers and media. It definitely seems like that’s the case and it’s not really making my job of covering these companies any easier.
  • New Cigar Accessories Are Coming Out — Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a noticeable decline in the number of new cigar accessories—particularly lighters and cutters made in Asia—but that seems to be changing. While Patrick Lagreid is writing about most of these new items during TPE 2022, it’s quite apparent to me that there are finally new items from a number of established accessory brands. The notable exception remains XIKAR, perhaps the most popular cigar accessory brand amongst cigar smokers for lighters, cutters and other such products. Since the start of 2020, XIKAR has shipped just one new lighter model along with a few new color and finish options for existing lighters. I’m not sure what to make of it, but I’m curious to see if XIKAR begins announcing and shipping new items shortly.

  • Cigar Companies Cannot Stop Themselves From Trying to Spend More Money at Trade Shows — Drew Estate’s bridge booth—a booth that contains a second-story structure to host meetings on—is back. I never would have imagined that the booth—last seen at IPCPR 2016—would return, even if it’s been scaled back. And while Drew Estate is the most notable example of a cigar company that has dramatically upped its TPE-related spending, it seems like many cigar companies are bringing more people, getting larger booths, and inevitably spending more money at this trade show. And many seem to want to spend more.For years, I have argued that many of the major problems plaguing the PCA Convention & Trade Show are simply related to the size of booths that companies commit to bringing. And while there was evidence that companies were scaling back at the 2021 PCA Convention & Trade Show, many companies are dramatically upping their resources at TPE. I don’t think this is necessarily an explicit decision to take resources from one trade show and spend it at another, but I’m baffled that many companies are making this choice as it seems quite obvious where this road leads.

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 handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.