This will be long remembered as the final trade show known as the IPCPR. Next year, the organization will become known as the Premium Cigar Association (PCA). The announcement was made by IPCPR Executive Director Scott Pearce on the eve before the Trade Show opened. Also announced as part of the rebranding is a new consumer component for the 2020 Trade Show, which will be known as CigarCon. The talk of PCA and CigarCon was naturally a hot topic that night and on Day One of the Trade Show for those who were in attendance – and it was clear that there was less attendance for a Day One than in recent memory.

A few weeks ago, we heard a “major announcement” was positioned to be made at the trade show. A little over a week before the trade show, news of the rebranding to PCA and CigarCon leaked out. While some have suggested it was a deliberate leak the IPCPR set up to create anticipation for the “major announcement,” I don’t believe this is the case and that IPCPR did not want this announcement made the way it was.

During the announcement made by Executive Director Scott Pearce, he was joined by Rocky Patel of Rocky Patel Premium Cigars, Christian Eiroa of CLE Cigar Company, Scott Regina of Emerson’s Cigars, and Phil Ledbetter of UpDown Cigars. The announcement focused on bringing consumers into the fold in order to build stronger support in the cigar industry’s battle against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). CigarCon was pitched as a revenue builder where the profits would go into the fight against the FDA. In addition, we were told CigarCon was meant to transform the Trade Show into a world-class event.

One thing that was made very clear. The PCA is here and it’s their mantra that “the consumers are coming”.

What was surprising is a number of manufacturers and retailers who have been passionate about this issue were not in attendance. I know first hand because many who were in Vegas were messaging me during the announcement. From the manufacturers and retailers who did attend – except for two lukewarm ovations, there was silence.  Perhaps because there is a Q&A scheduled for later today in Las Vegas, no one challenged the PCA or CigarCon. The complacency on this issue was somewhat mind-blowing. If IPCPR was taking the temperature of the audience at the announcement, it concluded that it was warm enough to proceed.

Patel and Eiroa did a good job at selling the reasons for why PCA ad CigarCon are needed. However, from several conversations with retailers and manufacturers, I believe there is a chance a small group will fight implementing it as a part of PCA.

I’m still flabbergasted by the silence and size of the group. The small size of the group was reflective of the other big story of the IPCPR, the attendance.

As I mentioned, this was probably the smallest Day One I’ve ever seen. The foot traffic was reminiscent of an afternoon of Day Three during previous years.

Finally, if there was a question about Bar Luca taking over for the Circle Bar, the cigar industry has clearly moved on. This picture was taken about 7pm Pacific Time, and the crowd was nearly doubled by midnight.

Photo Credits: Cigar Coop