For the 13th year, the Cigar Coop brand will be providing coverage of the Premium Cigar Association (PCA) Trade Show and Convention. This is also the 13th consecutive Trade Show we are covering and are proud to be a part of a very small group of media to say that. Our four-part series for the 2023 PCA Trade Show has you covered whether you are going to the show or following from home.

In this installment, we review some of the basics of the show and hit on some of the questions we’ve encountered in the past.

PCA 2023 Pre-Game – The Basics

What is the PCA?

PCA stands for Premium Cigar Association. It was originally called the RTDA (Retail Tobacco Dealers of America). In 2007, it was renamed to IPCPR (International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers) and then renamed the Premium Cigar Association in 2019. The Premium Cigar Association defines itself as:

Founded in 1933 as the Retail Tobacco Dealers of America, the Premium Cigar Association (PCA) is the oldest, largest and most active trade association representing and assisting retailers of premium tobacco products and their suppliers.

The PCA represents nearly 3,000 retail stores who employ 30,000+ retail workers. As the only full-service premium tobacco organization, we fight for our members against onerous, business-killing regulations and taxes, provide business-enhancing professional development, and help strengthen business relationships through our best-in-class trade show and other business-to-business offerings.

The PCA is the premium cigar and pipe industry’s center of excellence.

What is the PCA Trade Show and Convention?

It is an annual gathering that provides an opportunity for the cigar industry to showcase and sell products to cigar retailers. Typically, cigar manufacturers will use this event to launch and showcase their latest products. Often “show deals” will be provided by manufacturers to offer incentives to buy product.

In addition, there are a series of educational seminars and social networking events. In recent years, the education piece has been more of a focus of the PCA. Much of the education has been set up with the retailer in mind.

The Trade Show and Convention is an event geared specifically toward retailers, manufacturers, and service providers. All attendees, including members of the media, must be members of the PCA. The 2023 show is the 90th edition of this event.


When and Where

July 7th – July 11, 2023
Venetian Expo Center
Las Vegas, Nevada

The Trade Show and Convention will be in Las Vegas for the seventh year in a row. This is the tenth time in 13 years it is being held in Vegas. The Expo Center is connected to the Venetian and Palazzo hotel properties.

Changes are coming to the time and venue of the Trade Show. Earlier this year it was announced that the Trade Show for 2024 would be held at the end of March at the Las Vegas Convention Center. This will essentially put an end to this Trade Show being held in the summer months going forward.  Of the ten PCA Trade Shows in the last 13 years held in Vegas, eight of them have been at the Venetian Expo Center, including the past four years in a row. The move to March essentially ends the relationship PCA has had with the Venetian for the time being.

PCA Officers/Board of Directors

Every other year on an odd-numbered year, the PCA selects a new set of officers. A new set of officers will be named at the 2023 Show. It is expected Scott Regina will assume the role as PCA President as current President Greg Zimmermann’s term is coming on an end.

Smoking Policies

For 2023, there is not much change with the smoking policies surrounding the PCA Trade Show.

Smoking in general is getting more difficult in Las Vegas every year. Much of this is due to a combination of pressure from anti-smoking groups combined with opposition to the increased use of legalized marijuana in the state of Nevada. As a result, the Venetian Expo Center has strictly limited smoking to designated smoking areas in the facility.

While smoking is allowed on the Trade Show floor during Trade Show hours, it is prohibited in common areas, hallways, registration areas, meeting rooms, ballrooms, guest rooms, and any other non-designated smoking areas in the Sands and adjacent Venetian and Palazzo hotels.

As in the past, PCA has stated that the rules will be strictly enforced and that fines could be as much as $7,500, removal from the show and potential banning from future shows.

2023 Agenda and Schedule

Note: This is the schedule as reported at press time.

July 7th

The day before the Trade Show has traditionally been used for education and seminars. This year has seen some changes to what takes place the day before the Trade Show.

  1. The annual meeting and keynote addresses, typically something that happened at a breakfast before the doors of the actual Trade Show opened on Day One, have moved to the afternoon the day before the show opens.
  2. The educational seminars are more tobacco and cigar-focused. The PCA has taken a cue from the success of last year’s Fuente Friday. There is a Toscano seminar as well as a “Triple Threat Seminar” featuring Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, Christian Eiroa, and Nestor Plasencia, Jr.

On top of it, the team behind Hand Rolled will be debuting their new docuseries. It’s the first time in five years the Hand Rolled team has returned.

10am – 7:30pm: Registration Check In

Noon – 12:45: Cigar Docuseries Premiere: Hand Rolled: J.C. Newman Cigar Company

1pm – 1:45pm: The World of Fire Cured Tobacco – Discover the Passion Behind Toscano Cigars

2pm – 3pm: Blending Seminar Triple Threat: Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, Christian Eiroa, and Nestor Plasencia Jr.

3:15pm – 4pm: Premium Cigar Association Annual Meeting

4:15pm – 5pm: Keynote: Oz Pearlman

6pm – 8pm: Opening Party sponsored by Espinosa Cigars, Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust, Quality Importers Trading Company, and Room101


July 8th

8am – 5pm: Registration Check In

9am – 10am: Legislative Affairs Update – Sponsored by United Cigars

10am – 11am: Early Entry for Venetian/Palazzo guests & Media

11am – 6pm: Trade Show Open

4pm – 7pm: Happy Hour Cigar Bar (Presented by Illusione Cigars)

8pm – 10pm: PCA After Dark (Official Networking Event)

July 9th

8am – 5pm: Registration Check In

9am – 10am: Retailer Roundtable

10am – 11am: Early Entry for Venetian/Palazzo guests & Media

11am – 6pm: Trade Show Open

Noon – 2pm: State Association Meetings

4pm – 7pm: Happy Hour Cigar Bar (Presented by Toscano Cigars)

8pm – 10pm: PCA After Dark (Official Networking Event)

10:30pm – 1am: PCA After Dark: Exclusive Nightclub Access at Marquee Night Club

July 10th

For the second show in a row, a press conference is being hosted for the media.  This year the press conference is being held on Day Three.

8am – 5pm: Registration Check In

9am – 10am: Tobacco Compliance Seminar Presented by Smoker Friendly

10am – 11am: Media Press Conference

10am – 11am: Early Entry for Venetian/Palazzo guests & Media

11am – 6pm: Trade Show Open

Noon – 2pm: State Association Meetings

4pm – 7pm: Happy Hour Cigar Bar

8pm – 10pm: PCA After Dark (Official Networking Event)

10:30pm – 1am: PCA After Dark: Exclusive Nightclub Access at Jewel Night Club

July 11th

8am – Noon: Registration Open

9:00am– 1:00pm Trade Show Open

PCA 2022 Pre-Game – Additional Thoughts and FAQs

The following is an editorial piece. Except where noted, it represents the thoughts of this author and this author alone. These are listed in no particular order.

1. What Changed About the Day Before the Trade Show Opens and Why?

For many years, the PCA (and its predecessors the IPCPR and RTDA) have said the annual gathering needs to be more than just taking orders and should be more experiential. Many years on the day before the Trade Show, seminars on such items as point of sales and legislation have been featured. It’s not that these are not important topics, but it isn’t why people are going to Vegas.

When this author started going to IPCPR in 2010 and 2011, there were blending seminars delivered by Henke Kelner (2010) and José Blanco (2011). These were standing-room-only events and people loved the interactions with Henke and José. These sessions eventually disappeared. Last year Blanco along with Carlito Fuente convinced the organization a similar concept needed to be brought back. They organized a seminar which was known as “Fuente Friday.” It was a huge hit. The line getting into the seminar was reminiscent of being at a concert.

The success of Fuente Friday showed that when industry people are delivering industry content, it can be successful. As for the annual meeting and keynote being moved, I think this was an effort to try to get more people to attend that meeting. “Late nights” are actually early mornings for many visiting Las Vegas, and maybe that’s why the idea of a breakfast meeting isn’t the best.

Last year (much to some of the media’s chagrin), the PCA Trade Show moved its start time from 10 am to 11 am for the first three days. The PCA is using the additional time in the mornings of the Trade Show to also deliver educational content (i.e. the legislative seminar has been moved to one of these slots). I’m not 100% sure how well they will be attended considering the Trade Show was pushed back an hour to give folks an extra hour of sleep.

2. What is the Status of the Big Four Returning?

Altadis and STG will be back in an official capacity. Drew Estate is coming back in 2024 while Davidoff has not indicated anything in terms of return. Of the two companies returning in 2023 Altadis is back in full force while STG is officially only back with the brands sold under Forged Cigar Company.

While Drew Estate is not back, Joya de Nicaragua, a company Drew Estate distributes in the U.S. market, will be at the Trade Show. In addition, Ferio Tego, a company distributed in the U.S. by Davidoff of Geneva, is exhibiting at the Trade Show.

Another noteworthy return to PCA in 2023 is AJ Fernandez Cigar Company.

3. Who is the BCA and What is it Doing at PCA?

BCA stands for Boutique Cigar Association. The BCA was founded in 2016 as an association of small cigar companies across the United States, with the mission to promote and support small, family-owned cigar businesses that manufacture fewer than one million cigars per year.

Last year the PCA and BCA announced the two organizations had entered into what was described as a “collaborative relationship.” As a part of the relationship, the Boutique Cigar Association of America will now be a part of the Premium Cigar Association Trade Show in 2023. That partnership led to the formation of the BCA Pavilion, an area at this year’s PCA show that will allow BCA members to exhibit and showcase their products.

The BCA Pavilion is a common space reserved for (at press time) 16 companies. These companies must be members of the Boutique Cigar Association. Within that space, each company will have a kiosk-like booth where it will able to do business. The idea of the Pavilion provides a more cost-effective solution for the profile of the smaller companies that make up the association.

A list of companies in the Pavilion can be found here.

4. Why is the PCA Leaving the Venetian Expo Center After This Year?

The PCA has said it has become increasingly more difficult to do business at the Venetian. Perhaps the most difficult thing is that the PCA has said the Venetian had been inflexible on dates being offered. The Venetian was pretty much only offering the timeframe around the July 4 holiday. The PCA has said the Venetian has taken this stance because they didn’t want a Trade Show to take place that involves smoking when other trade shows and events were going on in the Expo Center. This has led to PCA’s decision to not renew its contract with the Venetian.

5. Why is Everyone Talking About the 2024 and 2025 Shows So Much?

Answer: Different Time of the Year, Different Venue, and Different City. There is no bigger drama in the cigar industry than over when and where this Trade Show should be held. The PCA is giving everyone plenty to talk about for the next couple of years.

The PCA not only chose 2024 to be the location of a new PCA Venue, but it has chosen to move the Trade Show out of the summer months and hold it in the spring. Next year the Trade Show will take place March 22-25, 2024.  Going forward the plan is to keep the Trade Show in the March/April timeframe.

With the Venetian contract coming to an end this year, PCA had to find a new home for 2024. For 2024, the March Trade Show will take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center as opposed to the Venetian Expo Center. The last time the Trade Show was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center was in 2018.

All indications are the 2025 Trade Show will see a new host city. That is because PCA could not secure dates at the Las Vegas Convention Center for 2025. All signs are pointing to that Trade Show moving back to New Orleans for at least one year.

6. What is the Outlook for Attendance and Foot Traffic in 2023?

On Prime Time Episode 271, Executive Director Scott Pearce said that attendance is trending to numbers similar to the 2018 and 2019 Trade Show. This is slightly higher than we have seen for 2022.

2022 2021 2019 2018
Retailer Attendees (Badges) 2036 1622 2085 2054
Retail Accounts 707 547 771 778

As we have said, sometimes the numbers do not tell the whole story. From our observations, the past three shows have seen a significant drop in foot traffic during the last two days of the Trade Show. We consider foot traffic to be the number of people on the trade show floor at any given time.  We have seen many people come into the Trade Show, stay the weekend, and then leave town on Sunday night. This has led to a noticeable drop in foot traffic on the final day.

While some have expressed the opinion that the Trade Show in the spring of 2024 could hurt PCA Trade Show attendance because retailers may opt to not do business at two PCA Trade Shows eight months apart, Pearce said (on Prime Time Episode 271) that the return to normalcy combined with an increase in PCA renewals could offset any attendance drop. Foot traffic is difficult to predict and quantify, but my guess is the drop off in foot traffic on Days Three and Four will continue.

One final note, the 2021 numbers above are somewhat an anomaly as this was due to being impacted by the pandemic.

7. What are the PCA Exclusive Cigars?

PCA Exclusive Cigars are those cigars that are offered for purchase by retailers only if they attend the PCA Trade Show in person. This has been a practice we have seen manufacturers use for years, but in 2021 the PCA decided to offer a formalized program where it would help promote and showcase these cigars.

In some cases, the manufacturer has strictly adhered to the “must attend show” policy. In other cases, these cigars were initially sold to retailers who attended PCA but then were offered to all retailers. There have also been some cases where retailers have been able to purchase PCA Exclusive Cigars on the side.

The past two years have seen the willingness of the PCA to help and promote the cigars, but they have noted it has been quite challenging to get many manufacturers to comply with deadlines and criteria set forward.

8. Can anyone go to the PCA Convention and Trade Show?

No, it is not open to the public. It is offered to industry trade and media members of the PCA only. Consumers may not become PCA members. This is strictly enforced by the PCA.

9. What Will Cigar Coop’s PCA Media Coverage Look Like in 2023?

Our coverage is being done under the umbrella of the Cigar Coop Coalition. This is the combined efforts of Cigar Coop, the Smoking Syndicate, and El Oso Fumar. Coverage will be delivered by Will Cooper, Ben Lee, Bear Duplisea, and Erron Nielsen. For details, see our blog post on this topic.

The Blog: Let the Madness Begin – PCA 2023 Coverage

10. How Do I Find Out Who is Going to the Trade Show and What They Are Exhibiting?

Check out our Cigar Big Board! It’s your one-stop place for information on who is going to the Trade Show (and who is not) as well as what products are being showcased. You will also find our booth coverage reports here once the Trade Show closes.

PCA 2023 – The Big Board

We try the best we can to maintain this information. Some companies are more forthcoming than others, so it does make this a challenge every year.

2023 PCA Pre-Game Series – Other Installments

Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted