Largest U.S. C-Store Chain Will Add VLN® to More Than 1,450 Corporate Stores in Three Largest State Markets, Incentivizes Additional 3,100 Franchise Stores to Join the Launch
Full Support from Corporate and Franchise Owners Association to Commence VLN® Sales in Franchise Locations
BUFFALO, N.Y., June 06, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- 22nd Century Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: XXII), a leading biotechnology company dedicated to improving health with reduced nicotine tobacco, hemp/cannabis and hops advanced plant technologies, today announced that its VLN® reduced nicotine content cigarettes will be sold in the #1 convenience store (C-Store) chain in the U.S. at more than 1,450 corporate locations in Texas, California and Florida. An additional 3,100 franchise owned stores in these state markets are incentivized to add VLN® products with full support from corporate and the national franchise owners organization. Franchise owned stores are already submitting product orders.
The launch will utilize 22nd Century Group’s new national and regional distribution agreements, including agreements with both the #1 and #2 C-store distributors in the United States. Stocking orders to distributors will commence in late-June, with corporate stores and the first wave of franchise stores expected to begin selling VLN® products in early July.
“Adding the country’s #1 C-store chain and launching the three largest state markets will significantly and quickly expand the availability of VLN® to thousands of additional stores,” stated John Miller, president of tobacco products for 22nd Century Group. “Franchise stores are already confirming orders to add VLN® in conjunction with the corporate rollout, which will include media outreach, in-store offers, signage and a range of education and awareness tools across a variety of channels designed to drive adult smokers to VLN®.”
Mr. Miller continued, “In addition to rapidly adding corporate and franchise owned stores in these new markets, we are also scheduling launches with other new regional c-store, pharmacy and military chains, plus regional and state business units of existing chains, that will further expand VLN®’s availability in multiple markets. These launch plans give us increased visibility into additional stores and states through the rest of the year, keeping us on track to reach our stated growth goals.”
Industry surveys indicate that 75% of smokers want to quit, and a majority of smokers try to quit each year, yet only a small percentage are successful. For smokers who are ready, VLN® reduced nicotine content cigarettes have been shown to decrease consumption, decrease dependence and reduce toxicants, providing a much-needed tool for millions of adult smokers to reduce their reliance on nicotine and smoke less.
“We are excited to deliver on our commitment to launch with major C-store retailers and new national-scale distribution resources as we work to rapidly expand sales of our VLN® products in up to 18 states by the end of 2023,” said James A. Mish, chief executive officer of 22nd Century Group. “VLN® sales are accelerating as planned, keeping us on track to achieve cash positive operations in our tobacco business in 2024.”
Market Data and Additional VLN® Background
22nd Century’s distribution agreements with the #1 and #2 U.S. C-Store products distributors, plus a growing list of regional distribution, provide solutions for convenience stores, mass merchants and drug stores seeking to carry the Company’s revolutionary VLN® reduced nicotine content cigarettes.
Combined, Texas, California and Florida represent more than 1.7 billion packs per year of cigarettes smoked, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, generating retail sales in excess of $14.4 billion.
- Approximately 15% of Texans smoke, making it the largest cigarette market in the United States. Texas smokers consume an estimated 736 million packs per year, resulting in $5.6 billion in annual retail sales.
- Approximately 10% of Californians smoke, consuming an estimated 514 million packs per year, resulting in $4.9 billion in retail sales.
- Approximately 15% of Floridians smoke, consuming an estimated 513 million packs per year, resulting in $3.9 billion in retail sales.
22nd Century Group's VLN® brand cigarettes are the first and only combustible cigarettes that the FDA has authorized as Modified Risk Tobacco Products (MRTP). The Company's VLN® King and VLN® Menthol King contain 95% less nicotine than traditional addictive cigarettes, a level considered to be minimally or non-addictive. Reduced nicotine content cigarettes, such as VLN®, have been studied extensively by federal health agencies, documenting their ability to help smokers smoke less. To inform adult smokers of the product's distinctive purpose, the FDA requires 22nd Century to include the statement "Helps You Smoke Less" on every package of VLN® sold.
As demonstrated by leading independent scientists, reducing the nicotine level in cigarettes has the potential to substantially reduce the enormous burden of smoking-related death and disease. It is estimated that a nicotine product standard to a level that is 95% less than the level of nicotine contained in U.S. conventional cigarettes could save millions of lives and tens of millions of life-years over the next several decades.
About 22nd Century Group, Inc.
22nd Century Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: XXII) is a leading biotechnology company focused on utilizing advanced alkaloid plant technologies to improve health and wellness through tobacco harm reduction, reduced nicotine tobacco, hemp/cannabis and hops. With dozens of patents allowing it to control nicotine biosynthesis in the tobacco plant, the Company has developed proprietary reduced nicotine content (RNC) tobacco plants and cigarettes, which have become the cornerstone of the FDA’s Comprehensive Plan to address the widespread death and disease caused by smoking. The Company received the first and only FDA Modified Risk Tobacco Product (MRTP) authorization for a combustible cigarette in December 2021. In tobacco, hemp/cannabis and hop plants, 22nd Century uses modern plant breeding technologies, including genetic engineering, gene-editing, and molecular breeding to deliver solutions for the life science and consumer products industries by creating new, proprietary plants with optimized alkaloid and flavonoid profiles as well as improved yields and valuable agronomic traits.
Learn more about VLN® at tryvln.com.
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
Except for historical information, all of the statements, expectations, and assumptions contained in this press release are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements typically contain terms such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “consider,” “continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “explore,” “foresee,” “goal,” “guidance,” “intend,” “likely,” “may,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict,” “preliminary,” “probable,” “project,” “promising,” “seek,” “should,” “will,” “would,” and similar expressions. Actual results might differ materially from those explicit or implicit in forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially are set forth in “Risk Factors” in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K filed on March 9, 2023. All information provided in this release is as of the date hereof, and the Company assumes no obligation to and does not intend to update these forward-looking statements, except as required by law.
Investor Relations & Media Contact
22nd Century Group