22nd Century begins retail production of very-low-nicotine cigarettes

Date:

22nd Century Group Inc. said Wednesday it has commenced retail production of the first cartons of the very-low-nicotine branded VLN King and VLN Menthol King cigarettes.

The cigarettes are being produced at its Mocksville facility, where it has a workforce of 56 employees.

The Buffalo-based manufacturer announced Jan. 18 it plans to launch in March the advertising and distribution of its very-low-nicotine traditional cigarettes in the first major metropolitan market.

The manufacturer said it “has secured a well-known national retail partner” for the pilot program. It has not said when the very-low-nicotine cigarettes will be available in the Triad and North Carolina.

On Dec. 23, the Food and Drug Administration authorized as modified-risk options the two brands.

It’s a controversial authorization for the FDA, given that a modified-risk tobacco product designation allows for the advertising of products as reduced harm or reduced risk compared with traditional cigarettes.

22nd Century can market the two products as having the capability to “help reduce exposure to and consumption of nicotine for smokers who use them” — products that the company touts “that smokes, tastes and smells like a conventional cigarette.”

22nd Century said the pilot will help “better understand how adult smokers will use this unique and revolutionary product prior to advancing to national distribution, providing an unmatched tool for helping adult smokers find an off-ramp from nicotine addiction.”

“Production of VLN for commercial sale is now under way at 22nd Century’s in-house manufacturing facilities,” said Nathan Schmitt, the company’s director of operations & supply chain.

“With a long history of producing reduced nicotine content research cigarettes as well as contract manufacturing for other brands, we were well prepared to commence manufacturing quickly upon receiving VLN’s historic modified-risk tobacco product authorization.

“We are also making additional capital investments into our facilities to support expanded production volumes as we ready for national launch following the pilot launch program.”

Controversial

The burning of tobacco leaves is the cause of most carcinogens associated with traditional cigarettes.

Nicotine, while addictive and potentially harmful to the brain, heart and lungs, is not considered as a carcinogen.

“There is a grave danger that this will reinforce inaccurate beliefs that it is the nicotine, rather than the inhalation of smoke, that is the cause of the harm from cigarette smoking,” said David Sweanor, an adjunct law professor at the University of Ottawa and the author of several e-cigarette and health studies.

“Science has shown for decades that people smoke to get nicotine, but die from the smoke.”

Other anti-smoking advocates say an FDA emphasis on very-low-nicotine traditional cigarettes could steer tobacco consumers away from potentially less harmful products, such as electronic cigarettes, heat-not-burn cigarettes and moist snuff.

22nd Century’s plans

22nd Century said it “plans to position VLN in the premium pricing segment of the cigarette market.”

“We are also in discussions with additional retail trade, marketing and strategic partners to scale VLN sales in the U.S. and internationally, including through potential licensing of our technology to facilitate the broader industry transition to (reduced nicotine content) products,” Mish said.

The FDA has placed limitations on how the two brands can be marketed. It allows 22nd Century to make the following claims: 95% less nicotine than most traditional cigarettes; “helps reduce your nicotine consumption;” and “greatly reduces your nicotine consumption.”

“When using any of the reduced exposure claims in the product label, labeling or advertising, the company must include ‘helps you smoke less,” according to the FDA news release.

Read full article here.

Richard Craver – Journal Now – 2022-01-26.

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