NACS is smokin’

The rapidly growing smokeless tobacco category figures to generate much excitement at the NACS Show.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first-ever drive-up gas station,  according to NACS, the National Association of Convenience Stores.

NJ_KING_TBGulf Refining Co. opened the station in Pittsburgh in 1913 to sell fuels and other related products. On its first day, the Gulf station sold 30 gallons of gasoline at 27 cents per gallon.

Much has changed, and not just the price of gas. According to the Alexandria, Va.-based NACS, as of December 31, 2012, there were 149,220 convenience stores in the U.S., and these stores sell much more than fuel. Attendees of the upcoming NACS show will see many of the newest products available for sale in these stores. This year the NACS show takes place October 12 to 15 in Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Among the new products will be OTP (other tobacco products), including the fast-growing segment of battery powered electronic cigarettes. E-cigarettes, or e-cigs, have seen so much growth over the past few years that Well Fargo Securities calls them “more than just a fad.” In its 2012 Tobacco Talk research, the securities firm surveyed 30,000 retailers and wholesalers about e-cigarettes, and found that the trade views e-cigs as a positive opportunity.

“We think e-cigs are to tobacco what energy drinks are to beverages,” wrote Bonnie Herzog, senior analyst. “Similar to energy drinks, e-cigs are profitable, growing quickly and gaining shelf space and consumer acceptance; therefore e-cigarettes are an important new niche category for retailers.”

More recently, the investment bank Citigroup released a report naming the top 10 disruptive technologies. Among them: e-cigarettes, which Citi reported will have 50% compound annual growth rate over the next few years, depending on whether regulations change and how much penetration the new products have into retail.

The regulation part of that is important because so far, electronic cigarettes have not been regulated the same way as traditional cigarettes. E-cigs emit water vapor instead of smoke and contain lower amounts of nicotine than combustible cigarettes. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the FDA Center for Tobacco Products currently regulates cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco. The FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research regulates e-cigarettes that are marketed for therapeutic purposes.

Most e-cigs are not marketed as therapeutic. Instead, they are advertised as a tobacco experience that adults can enjoy at work, in restaurants and in other places where cigarette use is banned. The FDA says that it intends to “issue a proposed rule that would extend FDA’s tobacco product authorities to products that meet the statutory definition of ‘tobacco product.’” The agency has not announced a timeline, but in August the Wall Street Journal reported that the FDA has been discussing, with the e-cigarettes industry, an online sales ban and other regulations.

Still, e-cigarettes are generating excitement in retail, and many representatives will showcase their new products at the NACS show. The NACS show will also have representatives from other tobacco and non-tobacco companies, as many adult shoppers prefer a more traditional chewing or smoking experience.

Here is a roundup of what attendees can expect to see this year:

Smokey Mountain Chew
Booth # 7511
Smokey Mountain Chew offers tobacco-free smokeless products to help adults quit or reduce their tobacco consumption. Tobacco-free snuff is a small but growing category, according to officials at the Sandy Hook, Conn.-based company. Smokey Mountain has new display units for its tobacco-free snuff, which is available in several flavors including Artic Mint, Cherry, Grape, Peach and Wintergreen. Each unit holds a stack of 11 cans.

blu eCigs
Booth # 2421
Part of the Lorillard Tobacco Co., blu eCigs will be spotlighting its Rechargeable Kit, designed to be an affordable and convenient alternative for e-cigarette users. The blu eCigs Rechargeable Kit offers a low price that gives e-cigarette users an option between disposable singles and premium rechargeable packs, say officials for the Charlotte, N.C.-based company.

The Rechargeable Pack acts as a carrying case for the e-cigarette and as a charger for on-the-go e-cigarette charging. Once the blu eCigs Rechargeable Pack is fully charged, it can recharge the included batteries two to three times before needing to be plugged back in, say officials. The blu eCigs Rechargeable Pack features car and laptop charging options and is as tall as a pack of cigarettes and as slim as a smartphone. The pack also has the capacity to hold three replaceable flavor cartridges, and comes with a choice of tobacco, menthol or a variety pack of flavors.  

Swisher International
Booth # 2848
Last year Swisher International, which makes flavored Swisher Sweets Cigarillos and other products, added e-cigarettes to its lineup. This summer e-Swisher introduced Soft Tip Disposable e-Cigarettes. The Jacksonville, Fla.-based company assembles Soft Tip Disposables in the U.S. and they contain U.S. made and filled e-Liquid. Swisher e-cigarettes are available in Menthol Breeze, Natural Smooth and Sweet Essence. Officials at Swisher International say their e-cigarettes and e-cigars are 100% guaranteed.  

Ballantyne Brands
Booth # 7811
Last November Ballantyne Brands acquired the e-cigarette manufacturer Mistic Electronic Cigarettes. At the same time Ballantyne also introduced NEO, a premium brand of e-cigs, available in traditional tobacco and menthol flavors.

Now Ballantyne, based in Charlotte, N.C., is expanding the Mistic brand with a competitively priced disposable e-cig, the Mistic Black. The smaller, lighter body is designed to have the same size and feel as a tobacco cigarette, to make the product easy to use. The soft tip technology provides Mistic Black’s flexible plastic tip with more give, making it feel more like a traditional cigarette while taking a drag, and its paper-wrap texture is designed to add to the familiar feel. Mistic Black is available in tobacco and menthol flavors, in 2.4% nicotine by volume, allowing the brand to add a higher-nicotine option to the soft-tip disposable market, say company officials.

Although Mistic Black is designed to feel and taste like a traditional cigarette, it boasts a sleek and classic design, with a matte black surface with metallic red or green stripes. Mistic Black takes the place of Mistic 1 as the brand’s premium single disposable e-cig.

Cheyenne International DRG_WIN_LC
Booth # 7859
Cheyenne International will be featuring its Derringer Smokeless Tobacco, a price-value option. Derringer smokeless is moist tobacco at an affordable price point, and is offered in eight styles, including fine cut, long cut, Wintergreen, Straight and Natural, say officials or the Grover, N.C.-based company. Cheyenne also makes cigars and cigarettes under the Cheyenne, Decade, Aura and Bodyshot brands.

Booth #1603
NJOY offers the NJOY King. The NJOY King is the same size and weight of a traditional cigarette, with a soft paper feel and squeezable filter tip and a real tobacco flavor, say company officials. NJOY King come in four varieties: Traditional Bold, Traditional Gold, Menthol Bold and Menthol Gold. The Bold varieties have 4.5% nicotine by volume, and the Gold varieties have 3.0% nicotine by volume.

NJOY, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., also offers a recycling program. Consumers can mail eight NJOY King e-cigarettes to the company, along with a recycle form that they can print out from the NJOY website, and receive one free NJOY King.

21st Century Smoke
Booth #7412
21st Century Smoke will be featuring its Genuine Soft Tip Filter. The e-cigarette’s filter has the same look and feel as the filter of a traditional tobacco cigarette, say officials for the Beloit, Wis.-based company. Genuine is currently available in a king size disposable in both the regular tobacco flavor and cool menthol flavor. They are packaged in an individual box with removable cellophane ribbon so it opens as a traditional pack of cigarettes, designed to give the consumer the feeling of the traditional cigarette experience. The product can be returned to the box for storage when not in use.

The Genuine Soft Tip filters are offered in a 40-count two-tier counter display. Each display contains four 10-count individual displays that can be shown separately or together on the counter or placed at the back bar next to traditional cigarettes. Three of the 10 counts are regular tobacco flavor and one is cool menthol. All of the 21st Century e-cigarettes contain 2.0 ml tobacco strength.

Company officials also say they will soon launch a refillable product, which will include the most popular e-liquid bottle sizes and flavors. This product will be introduced under the company’s new brand name, Vapin Plus. The e-liquids will be processed at a state of the art good manufacturing practice (GMP) facility, add officials.

V2 Cigs
Booth #2023
VMR Products, maker of V2 Cigs electronic cigarettes, is launching Vapor Couture, an e-cigarette brand designed to appeal to women. The e-cigarettes are available in both disposable and rechargeable varieties, and they come in traditional flavors such as tobacco and menthol as well as the more exotic Passion Fruit and Strawberry Champagne. The e-cigarette features a jewel tip that lights the slender digital vapor device. VMR, based in Miami, also makes the V2 brand of disposables, express kits and carts in menthol and tobacco flavors.

Green Smoke
Booth # 2508
Green Smoke electronic cigarettes feature FLAVORMAX cartomizers, which are cartridges and atomizers, made with natural tobacco extracts. The Miami based company has improved its line of rechargeable and disposable e-cigs that feature new advanced technology that enhances flavor, smoke volume and battery life, say company officials. Green Smoke also provides reusable small carrying cases to protect and store additional product.

Puff E-Cig
Booth # 7612
Puff, which is sharing a booth with East West Trading Corp., is presenting two products. The Platinum Series Tank Kit system features a larger 2-milliliter tank and a flush switch battery. The Imlay City, Mich.-based Puff is also rolling out its U.S. made e-liquid. The 10-milliliter bottle is available in 38 different flavors, ranging from traditional tobacco and menthol to hookah flavored e-liquid such as Cool Lemon, Melon Fusion and Choco-Nana, a chocolate and banana mix. The e-liquids are made from edible plant oil based vegetable glycerin, which is kosher, and USP grade propylene glycol. The nicotine e-liquids contain U.S. made nicotine. All of the Puff e-liquids use naturally occurring free base, L-isomer, liquid alkaloid form nicotine, add officials.

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