On the evening of June 19th, 2019 Halfwheel.com confirmed that the IPCPR would be officially renamed the Premium Cigar Association (PCA), AND, that in 2020 at the annual convention in Vegas, on Day One, consumers would be allowed into the show BEFORE the retailers, in what has been christened – CigarCon. (This same latter proposal was attempted in 2013 but was quickly shot down. Where’s the NRA when you need ’em?) This has led to a drop in confidence (60%) by retailers of the efficacy of the PCA as it ignores the obvious and is moving ahead with its unpopular agenda.
On June 28th, 1969, “a group of (angry) queers resisted routine police harassment at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City, leading to thirteen arrests and days of street protests.” * Fifty years later, in The Stonewall Riots, edited by Marc Stein, he writes that what was a partial cause of the riots was “inspired and influenced by other social movements”; or, simply, as a “spontaneous eruption of anger.”
The same could be said about this polymorphous decision on the part of the PCA to add CigarCon. It has indeed ignited a fire while we had hoped a few bright minds within the PCA were still glowing and trying to logically figure out what to do about the cigar industry’s dismal attendance at the annual trade show and at the same time how to handle the insatiable onslaught of the FDA (and our own culture) to obliterate tobacco from the landscape. (Though methinks the association’s intellectual embers are stone cold.)
Lee Grossman, in an article written for Vanity Fair’s Summer issue about the final episode of the Star Wars Trilogy, The Rise of Skywalker, details how George Lucas after his making of THX 1138, and then the spectacular success of American Graffiti, quotes the legendary director, “I realized that after THX that people don’t care how the country (or an industry?) is being ruined. We’ve got to regenerate optimism.” Grossman goes on to write “Like American Graffiti, Star Wars is a work of profound nostalgia, a post-Vietnam, post-Watergate anthem of longing for the restoration of a (sic) true and just power in the universe – the return of the king.”
And that “king” is Accountability.
Maybe, just maybe, like how the Stonewall Inn Riots produced the Gay Right’s Movement and turned the public’s attention to the oft-maligned community for no particular reason other than it’s different from what society perceives to be the norm or conventional (the cigar smoker).
And maybe the zeal of Lucas’s desire to give hope to moviegoers through the art of film-making by capitalizing on the popularity of Star Wars prompted this quote from the Grossman article, “People wanted movies that gave them something to believe in instead of relentlessly autopsying the beliefs that failed them.”
I think the PCA created the CigarCon concept to try and solve its low attendance problem by allowing Day One of the 2020 Vegas Convention to be cannibalized by voracious consumers – in any form. But the idea backfired by giving industry retailers the catalyst they needed to take a closer look at what the PCA’s priorities really are.
For eighty-seven years the retailers have faithfully handed in their fees in the hopes that the association, whatever its initials, has been using its polished prowess to be the one bright light for the shops, lounges, stores, and events of the tobacco industry. Lord Acton, the British historian, said that “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This statement may be something to ponder here.
Retailers are stomping mad at a lot of things: the FDA, the government, CigarCon – and the PCA. Perhaps this is the right time for that “spontaneous eruption of anger” to take place.