James Foster, CST
Well, friends, it’s that time again where I’ve trekked out to Vegas for you in the summertime… Braving the heat, strange offers from Uber drivers, and Brian Levine’s attempts at comedy to bring you the latest news that’s fit to print about the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) trade show. Attending always welcomes old faces and new faces and this year has been no different, except for the new face of IPCPR.
That’s right, IPCPR is being rebranded. Funnily enough when they had the “big announcement” almost everyone already knew the details with a few exceptions bringing about what they even termed as the worst kept secret in the industry. IPCPR is now the Premium Cigar Association(PCA).
No premium tobacco, no pipes or pipe tobacco mentioned in the name. The Pipe industry is relegated to the tagline after the name. What gave me a laugh, was one of the reasons for the name change, tied into the problem the industry faces with regulations.
I proposed they just throw in an extra P – PP&CA but when you think about how Congress is these days, they’ll think the name has something to do with going to a urologist.
You see when the IPCPR as a lobbying group goes to sit down with members of Congress, they are continually spending the first 5-10 minutes explaining that they do not in fact have anything to do with the heart, or medicine as many in the government who see the acronym only see ipCPR.
Really, no more pipes in the name?
One of the analogies they threw out when asked about dropping Pipes from the name is that handgun owners don’t look for a separate organization they still join the National Rifle Association (NRA). Additionally, they reminded the room that Cigars make up 95% of the premium tobacco industry. Gee, thanks.
Along with this name change, we’ve got another big shakeup for the event and the association. Next years 2020 IPC er PCA event will have 2 days that consumers can go and attend with an event tagged onto the beginning of the show called CigarCon.
The first day (Friday) will be educational tracks and the 2nd day will be a half day on the trade show floor with your local retailer showing you around. Now before you start rubbing your grubby paws together about getting free pipes, tobacco and cigars there is a catch.
What we know about the show so far:
There will be 4500 tickets available.
They are expanding the type of companies invited to participate – for instance, liquor, watches, cars, premium lifestyle brands you know.
With this, we can expect tobacco and bourbon pairings.
These tickets will start off only being available through your local retailer (ie your retailer will have a code to give you).
We don’t have a price yet but it won’t be cheap.
This isn’t a tradeshow where you get a bag, run to all the booths snag as many boxes of stuff as you can and run away. You’ll have a set amount of tobacco items you can get.
Think of this as an opportunity to have the greatest access to the largest selection of tobacco you’ve ever seen. So choose… but choose wisely.
There are 2500 retailers that belong to IPCPR so if every one of them brought 2 customers the tickets would be gone so this could be the hottest ticket in town.
There is an experience factor here of being able to go with your local retailer, get introduced to manufacturers, distributors, growers, etc that can’t be overlooked.
In order to attend consumers will actually become members of the PCA- thus keeping the event a closed, members-only event that is not open to the public.
By paying for the fee for the ticket, it covers the FDA regulation about giving samples to consumers.
The vaping or e-cigarette industry has put the spotlight on the tobacco industry in general and regulations to adopt T-21 or Tobacco 21 legislature are center stage now because of this. IPCPR and Cigar Rights of America (CRA) have continued to get in front of lawmakers to educate that the industry when it comes to cigars and pipes; reiterating that premium tobacco is an adult leisure activity. But it continues to be an uphill battle. In 10 weeks they had 65 meetings and many of those meetings members of Congress were ignorant to what constituted a premium cigar or premium tobacco vs a cigarette.
There are two bills one in the House and one in the Senate the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2019 HR-1854 and S-9 with the same name- to continue to differentiate premium cigars from vaping and cigarettes. In summary, these two bills are “To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to clarify the Food and Drug Administration’s jurisdiction over certain tobacco products, and to protect jobs and small businesses involved in the sale, manufacturing and distribution of traditional and premium cigars.”
What they don’t do is carve out any exceptions for pipes or pipe tobacco.
Lawsuit against the FDA
3 Years ago IPCPR and CRA filed a lawsuit against the FDA for many of the provisions of their regulations. We got a brief update on 2 items which are now with the US district courts (1 step down from the supreme court) and that is the requirement for warning labels on cigar boxes and tins of tobacco as well as the substantial equivalent requirement for manufacturers. To date, IPCPR and CRA have spent around 3.2 million dollars on legal fees fighting the latest round of encroachment on our freedoms.
We’ll be back shortly with more happy thoughts in the next post with news and updates from vendors you know and love as I make my way to chat with people like Chris Gawith whose made his first trip over to IPCPR to see what it’s all about.
|James Foster goes by the online handle of Pylorns in the forums, and he is the creator of an app for keeping track of your tobacco cellar inventory called The Pipe Tool, serves as the President of the Austin Pipe Club and is a Certified Tobacconist.