2024 PCA Post-Game


Today, I present my annual PCA Post-Game Report for 2024. This is my detailed breakdown of the Trade Show and some prevailing thoughts. This is the ninth consecutive Trade Show in which I have published such a report. I break down the details of this year’s Trade Show in this full “Post-Game” report.

This year, I published four daily post-game recaps during the Trade Show. These were intended to be short daily recaps of the Trade Show. One additional feature we added a couple of weeks ago was a Cigar Coop Coalition recap of our favorite cigars, companies, and booths at PCA. We also included that in this report. This report focuses on the show’s mechanics and associated trends overall.

If you follow the cigar industry, there is no bigger drama than the annual PCA Trade Show. Those who tell you they don’t care about the PCA Trade Show are sometimes the ones commenting the most on it. This is why this drama justifies a detailed article. The topics are not in a particular order but were arranged somewhat for a logical flow.

This will not conclude the Cigar Coop 2024 PCA coverage. We still have more product-centric coverage and company reports coming out over the next couple of weeks.

Finally, the thoughts in this article are those of the author and the author alone. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the other members of the Cigar Coop team.

As for my overall grade, it was B. This was a good trade show for the PCA outside of the Opening Party and a snafu with media access hours.

The Three Big Changes Were Positively Received

2024 PCA Post-Game

This Trade Show had three significant changes, and for the most part, all three seemed very well-received.

  1. The move to the Spring
  2. The move to the Las Vegas Convention Center
  3. The elimination of the Half Day

I haven’t heard any complaints about the move to the spring. People seemed genuinely happy that the Trade Show was now earlier in the year.

The same holds for the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). People seemed happy with the Convention Center move. A few years ago, there was an unhappy sentiment about LVCC. Much of that was around the fact the Westgate Hotel was undergoing renovations. Resorts World was one of the host hotels this time, and although it was further away, people seemed happy with it. For those who walked to the LVCC, many discovered BagelMania.  Nobody seemed to miss Bar Luca once they found the Crystal Bar was a place to smoke and drink.

The elimination of the half-day also had a positive response. The one comment here is there still was a drop in foot traffic on day three. It wasn’t as bad a drop-off as it was in the past, but it was a drop-off. The first two hours were slow – most likely because some left after day two and some spent too much time at the Crystal Bar the night before. The last two hours were also slow as some people still opted to go home early.

As for the Numbers…

2024 PCA Post-Game

These are the retail attendance and retail badge numbers

Year Accounts % Change (Acct) Badges % Change (Bdg)
2022 772 2005
2023 806 4.40% 2156 7.53%
2024 850 5.46% 2183 1.25%

In the previous section, I noted the increase in foot traffic on day one, but the number of badges issued didn’t exactly back up that statement. While there was a 5.46% increase in the number of retail accounts at the Trade Show, there was only a 1.25% increase in the number of badges issued for those retail accounts. The bottom line is that foot traffic doesn’t necessarily translate to badges given out.

The 5.46% increase in retail accounts could be attributed to a push by PCA to get retailers back to the show, which shows these efforts are successful. The 1.25% was smaller, showing that retailers invested a little less in buying at this Trade Show. Many retailers simply overbought and overspent in 2023 and were not in a position to buy heavily in 2024. This ultimately led to some sending fewer people.  In the end, with a full year between the 2024 and 2025 show, we should see more badges issued.

The Best Opening Day of Seminars

2024 PCA Post-Game

The opening day seminars were undoubtedly the best lineup I’ve seen in the 14 years I’ve covered the Trade Show. We recapped this during our Convention Day Post-Game Report.

PCA 2024 Post-Game Report: Convention Day

This was a great step for the PCA. It was not only pleasing to see this well-attended, but it was good to see excellent and informative content being produced. While I’m not opposed to bringing in outsiders to deliver seminars and keynotes, using the people in our industry is a better move. In the premium cigar industry world, names like Jorge Padrón, Nick Melillo, and Ernesto Perez-Carrillo are already Rock stars. The bar was set high for the PCA this year, so hopefully, content of the same caliber can be delivered in future years.

I give high grades to everything before the Opening Party. As we will see, the Opening Party is another story.

The Opening Party Needs Help

2024 PCA Post-Game

I have praised and admired the excellent work done by Scott Pearce and his staff in the past four years in restoring this trade show. However, there is one aspect that needs improvement in the PCA’s management and that is the opening party. This has been a long-standing issue for the organization.

Last year, the party seemed to trend in the right direction, with the event put on by Espinosa (including Guy Fieri),  Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust, Quality Importers, and Room101. With the exception of the long lines, it seemed like the party had a nice vibe. This year, it completely regressed. Yes, the lines were gone, but it was a dull, uneventful gathering. The cigars were excellent, and the hosts (Crowned Heads, Oz Family Cigars, and E.P. Carrillo) were accessible and welcoming. Other than that, the event didn’t have a celebratory vibe. It had an industrial feel to it. I’m sorry, the nachos did not cut it.

I know there are smoking restrictions that make the party a challenge, but that hasn’t stopped the cigar industry before. The thing is, our industry is one of the most creative ones out there. There are people in it who know how to put on events and put these events on well. It’s time to call these people for help. Bringing a party planner in would also not hurt.

The opening party should set the tone for the rest of the Trade Show and give a positive vibe to every attendee. It’s time to give this considerable attention.

Best Cigars, Companies, and Booths

2024 PCA Post-Game

This year, our team analyzed our favorite cigars from the Trade Show. We also looked at some of the companies that we thought did very well at the Trade Show. Finally, we looked at some of the booths. Here are the results:

2024 PCA Post-Game


  1. Umbagog Bronzeback
  2. Macanudo Emissary España
  3. Micallef Blue
  4. HVC Seleccion No. 1 Connecticut
  5. Black Works Studio Paper Crane
    Foundation Wise Man Corojo (tie)
    Powstanie Connecticut Justice (tie)


  1. Drew Estate
  2. S.T. Dupont
  3. Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust


Three-way tie: Drew Estate, S.T. Dupont, Plasencia

For a deeper look at this, see our post-game coverage on cigars, companies, and booths:

PCA 2024 Post-Game Report: Top Cigars, Companies and Booths

Celebrities Continue

This year, there were several celebrities at the Trade Show who partnered with cigar companies to release cigars.

Guy Fieri

Guy has his own brand of cigars, Knuckle Sandwich, and he works with Espinosa Cigars for production and distribution. This was Guy’s third year, and he remains one of the most sought-after celebrities at the Trade Show.

2024 PCA Post-Game

Chazz Palminteri

This was Chazz’s second trade show. He is working with Epic Cigars and Paulie DiSivio’s La Casa Grande for his “A Bronx Tale” line.

Ron Harper

Ron make his trade show debut partnering with Luciano Cigars for the Underrated brand.

Photo Credit: Let’s Get Pairing

Mike Tyson

This arguably is one of the biggest names at the Trade Show. The former two-time Heavyweight Champion made a brief appearance at the Gurkha booth to promote his project he is doing with them, Tyson 2.0 Undisputed.

John Salley

While we didn’t get to Freud Cigar Company’s booth, Salley was there helping promote their cigar. From an interview with Simply Stogies, he seems to be taking a more active role in the company.

The Espinosa-Fieri partnership continues to be the gold standard for the industry. With three trade shows under his belt, Fieri shows no signs of getting bored with the cigar industry.

State of the PCA Exclusive Series

For those who don’t know, PCA Exclusive Cigars are offered to retailers who attend the PCA Trade Show. The idea is it’s meant to be an incentive to get retailers to go to the show. The concept was modeled after the Tobacconists Association of America (TAA) program that offers exclusive cigars to its retail members. The PCA has encouraged this program, but the same problem exists year after year – many of the manufacturers simply do not take it seriously.

Last year, I commented on how the PCA has made an admirable attempt to build a framework for manufacturers with this program, but it’s like herding cats. My advice last year was for the PCA to encourage companies to do PCA Exclusives but put the burden on the companies to market their own PCA Exclusives. Whether they read this or not, the PCA did this in 2024. That’s a good thing.

For reference, it was on the PCA Mobile App where I found a list of what these cigars were for 2024; these were the following cigars that were listed

  • Black Label Trading Company Orthodox
  • Asylum PCA Exclusive 2024
  • CLE PCA Exclusive 2024
  • EIROA PCA Exclusive 2024
  • El Septimo Humidor Eggs
  • Fratello Pocahontas
  • GTO 33 Oaks 12 Year Bourbon Barrel Aged Cigars
  • Kristoff Signature Series 2024
  • La Palina Goldie TBD
  • La Palina Goldie Prominente

There was not a trend toward lower-priced cigars.

I’ve heard it mentioned several times that Micallef changed the game with the release of Micallef Black and started a trend toward high-premium, value-priced cigars. While I respect what Micallef did with the Black and this year with Micallef Blue, I can’t say this was the start of a new industry trend.

First up, it’s entirely fair to say Micallef Black delivered a high-quality cigar in the $7.00 to $8.00 range. However, as noted in our 2023 coverage, Forged Cigar Company had many new releases that all came in under the $10.00 price point. 2022 saw United Cigars bring some high-quality releases under $10.00 into the Trade Show with the Arnold Andre brands and La Mezcla Cubana. That same year, Drew Estate bucked the higher-priced trend with Nica Rustica Adobe. Let’s not forget about El Artista’s Buffalo Ten either in 2021.

My point is that the idea of a high-premium, value-priced cigar is not new. It’s been going on for years and will continue to go on. I didn’t necessarily see cigar prices come down. There were still plenty of cigars still selling for $25.00 and over. Most notably:

There wasn’t a trend toward lower-priced cigars, and plenty of high-priced cigars were still released at this year’s show.

Evaluating the Media Coverage

Photo Credit: Adobe


Once again, I found most of the media coverage of the Premium Cigar Association (PCA) Trade Show to be lacking. Personally, reels remind me too much of an MTV-like video. In addition, I really don’t need to learn about wrapper/binder filler (Yes will cover it, yes we will cover it -more on that later). I want less “how is the Trade Show going” and more about the story of the products.

Then there was host Law Ream from Republic of Debauchery who proved to me there is hope for great cigar media coverage. Law’s video 15 Game Changing Products from the Super Bowl of Cigars: PCA 2024 is exactly what I’ve been looking for. It’s more product-centric and less personality-driven. On top of it, his production was amazing. I wish he had done more of it.

As for our coverage, we focus on products and mix in interviews with personalities. We strive not to duplicate the content in our written pieces. Yes, we still have improvements that will be made, but I was pretty pleased with our coverage. This year, the addition of Tripp and Denis from Let’s Get Pairing was tremendous. They helped us fill gaps in our coverage, but at the same time, they brought their unique spin. Together with Bear, Ben, and Erron, I couldn’t be happier to be along side these guys.


Each year, we take a multi-pronged approach when we cover the Trade Show. We typically try to focus our interviews on something other than the technical components of the cigar blends and save that for the individual product reports. We get as much information as we can prior to the Trade Show, and in some cases, we follow up after the show. This information includes vitola sizes, pricing, box counts, ship dates, and blend information.

This year, some companies are stepping back from disclosing blend information. It wasn’t a total shift. If you speak to Somm Cigars and Drew Estate, they are open to giving detailed blend information. If you talk to C.L.E., you can clearly see they are trying to avoid it. Then, there are some staff from companies who have no clue.  In this author’s eyes, as well as those of members of our team, it was clear that some companies are getting away from disclosing this information.

As much as I find wrapper/binder/filler boring, the Cigar Coop audience does not. In a social media post, I suggested possibly cutting back on reporting on wrapper/binder/filler as part of our coverage, but it was met with a resounding “no.”

Thank you, Scott Pearce

About a month after the Trade Show closed, news came that Executive Director Scott Pearce would depart the Premium Cigar Association (PCA) to become the new President of the Cigar Association of America (CAA). This is not really PCA 2024 post-game, but it happened about a month after the Trade Show closed. While Pearce was not in attendance at this Trade Show, it was due to personal reasons unrelated to this move.

During his tenure with PCA, Pearce guided the organization through difficult times. In 2020, the PCA cancelled its trade show and furloughed its staff due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That same year, the Big Four (Altadis, Scandinavian Tobacco Group, Drew Estate, and Davidoff) stopped attending the Trade Show. Under Pearce’s leadership, he brought three of the Big Four companies back to the show.

The Trade Show has been on an upward trajectory under Pearce’s watch. Pearce brought organizational changes, which saw an expanded board of directors and a more transparent voting process. Over the past year, he oversaw moving the Trade Show from the summer months into the spring – a move lauded by the cigar industry. He also oversaw eliminating the final half day of the Trade Show, another move praised by the industry. Pearce was also involved with rebranding the IPCPR to the PCA name. In the interim, Deputy Executive Director Joshua Habursky will fill the role of Executive Director.

Pearce has done a tremendous job under some challenging circumstances. The PCA is a better organization today compared to 2018, when Pearce first took the job. We thank Scott for his leadership and service and look forward to working in his new role.

Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted.