While the first day of the 2022 Tobacco Plus Expo was pretty busy on the red-carpeted corner of the room where the premium cigar and accessories manufacturers were located, foot traffic on day two seemed to be a bit quieter. There were still plenty of crowded booths—and as Charlie alluded to yesterday—still plenty of booths for both of us to visit, along with a good number of new products to see.

As a reminder, Charlie and I, along with Brooks (who is in Dallas), are regularly updating this post to document all the new cigars and accessories that we see during TPE.

After spending an almost obscene amount of money for two coffees and bacon breakfast sandwiches at the well-known, international coffee shop in the hotel we’re staying in, we headed to the show floor to take advantage of the hour that the TPE organizers give media to visit booths before the doors open to retail attendees. If used correctly it is a real help on getting a jump on the day, particularly with the booths that tend to have a steady stream of retailers stopping by. With a long list of companies to visit, that hour was needed and the start of what would be a long day, and one I needed to make the most of since I’d be heading home Thursday night.

Now that I’m back home, I’m trying to work through the mental blur that was Thursday and pick a few things that stood out. Here are some that come to mind:

  • J.C. Newman Brings El Reloj to TPE — This was one of my favorite things from the 2021 PCA Convention & Trade Show, so I was really pleased to see it back on a trade show floor this year. While the company wasn’t showing off any new products, the mini-museum was back, complete with a display that showed some old, historical versions of the company’s modern lines. While I enjoyed seeing this on its own, it was interesting to walk through the display and then look up and see what could be described as the next generation of smoking dominating the bulk of the show floor.
  • There Are a Lot of Fairly New Companies — There were a number of companies who were new to me attending TPE, companies such as Family X Loyalty Cigar, which released its first blends in the second half of 2020 and added three more lines at TPE. Then there’s Maven, a lighter company based out of Los Angeles that has a portfolio which includes items for cigar smokers. I was also introduced to a couple of guys who are in the process of launching their own new cigar company. It brought to mind two things: a conversation I had not that long ago about how many companies might be out there that I’ve never heard of, and a thought I had once considered about a lack of new companies in light of FDA regulations. I’m glad there are new companies out there, I’m glad they’re coming to trade shows to show off their products, and I’ve got some research to do on who might not be getting onto our radar for one reason or another.
  • The Media Landscape Continues to Evolve — I was intrigued to see the number of video cameras being toted around and interviews being done on the show floor. While we shoot videos with manufacturers, we also focus on TPE largely from a news perspective, and one that heavily incorporates the written word and still photographs. It seemed that there were a lot of people there looking for content for their YouTube channel or social media feeds, perhaps more so than I’ve seen at other trade shows. I find it interesting to see how consumers and others interact with those in the industry, and this year’s TPE seemed to be a pretty good reminder that there are a decent number of people working to make that connection through their online channels.

Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.