It had been 467 days since the premium cigar industry had gathered for a major trade show when the 2021 Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) began on May 12th of this past week. This was due, of course, to the COVID-19 pandemic of the past year. The last event of this category was actually the TPE 2020 trade show (held from Jan. 29–31, 2020), notably skipping the conventionally larger PCA trade show (originally slated for July 10–14, 2020) and pushing the TPE21 event out by four months.
The 2021 Tobacco Plus Expo took on added significance, as it not only marked the first such event for the premium cigar industry, but all industries, being the first convention to return to the Las Vegas Convention Center since the pandemic struck. Expected measures were put in place throughout the trade show, including encouraged social distancing, mask requirements, and frequent reminders by convention hall officials to follow such requirements. In practice, virtually all booths allowed smoking within their boundaries without masks, prompting masks to be worn on the various walkways between each booth.
TPE is the Tobacco Plus Expo International, billed as “the largest premium cigar, tobacco, vapor, and alternative trade show,” marking the cigar industry’s first B2B buying exhibition of the year. The event is run by Kretek International, Inc., the largest importer, marketer and distributor of specialty tobacco products in the U.S., being the parent company of wholesale distributor Phillips & King, as well as premium cigar manufacturer Ventura Cigar Co.