With the COVID-19 Coronavirus putting fear into the U.S. market more than any other disease many of us have seen in our lifetime, we have started to see everyday life and business affected. Events are getting cancelled, restrictions are emerging on business travel, and even toilet paper shortages have emerged. In the middle of all of this, the Premium Cigar Association (PCA) made a bold statement on March 11th, 2020 – they have no plans to cancel the Trade Show that opens on July 10th, 2020.

121 days – that was the total number of days until the PCA Trade Show opens from the time the announcement was made. It is still four months away – and that still is plenty of time before pushing a panic button.

It seems as if PCA doesn’t have the best of luck. Shortly after the PCA announcement, a series of major announcements came from other areas – no fans at the NCAA Tournament, a suspension of the NBA Season, and restrictions on travel with Europe. All of these unprecedented in our lifetime – and all happened hours after the PCA announcement. While the timing of the PCA announcement didn’t work out, this is something that is 121 days away, so there is time to make changes if things get worse.

There are those that would be critical of the PCA no matter what it did – and that’s quite unfair. What were PCA’s other options? Imagine if they did push the panic button?  There would be those who would rip them for pushing a panic button. Imagine if they kept silent?  There would be those who would say PCA was disconnected from the problem at hand. Imagine if PCA said it was considering it? That could be just as bad as if PCA pushed the panic button immediately. In other words, it was a no-win situation for them.

I go back to the 121 days.  As mentioned above, the Trade Show opens July 10th. Major League Baseball’s All Star game – a pivotal block in the season has made no plans to cancel its classic – which is held on July 14th. No criticism is being levied on them, so I think it’s still too early to beat up the PCA for its decision.

PCA has stated it is monitoring the situation. In their announcement the organization stated:

[What is Show Management doing to prepare for PCA 2020? We are closely monitoring the news and will follow any protocols provided by the CDC and WHO. We are working closely with the Sands/Venetian to ensure the safety of all show participants. The Sands/Venetian is closely monitoring COVID-19 developments. The situation is evolving rapidly and their Emergency Management Team works closely with local officials. They continue to follow the guidance of the CDC and Southern Nevada Health District for local direction.

Granted there could be events that are triggered that could change this stance as things get closer. In 30 to 45 days, if things continue to get worse, PCA may change direction. It’s also worth noting that one internal thing to watch is if any cigar company makes a statement and says they are not attending PCA 2020 because of Coronavirus concerns.

As far as how this affects foot traffic with the retailers, it’s fair to say some retailers will stay home. How many stay home – too early to tell.

For now, I go back to the 121 days. I’m not sure what canceling the cigar industry’s biggest and most important event of the year would accomplish. There are many other challenges facing the PCA in 2020 – a perception of declining foot traffic and the Big Four pulling out. It would have been easy to cancel the Trade Show and blame it on the Coronavirus. That did not happen.

Finally, this author’s position isn’t meant to minimize the dangers of the CoronaVirus. Everyone should execute common sense on how to deal with this health threat.