FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — National distribution begins Monday for Vuse, Reynolds American Inc.’s electronic cigarette brand, the company told the Winston-Salem Journal Tuesday.
R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co., the subsidiary created to produce and market Vuse, said the product will debut in selected retail outlets.
That includes the 7-11 convenience store chain in the Triad, which already is displaying Vuse signage.
E-cigs are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution in a disposable cartridge and create a vapor that is inhaled.
Vuse is currently distributed only in Colorado and Utah, where Reynolds said it has gained top market share.
“The brand’s nationwide expansion is an important step as we position Vuse as the vapor authority, and continue our efforts to lead the transformation of the tobacco industry,” said Stephanie Cordisco, president of Reynolds Vapor.
Reynolds has touted Vuse as a “game changer” for not only the e-cig category, but also consumption of tobacco products.
Cordisco and Susan Cameron, chief executive and president of Reynolds American, have said the challenge of converting smokers of traditional cigarettes into regular e-cig users is why the company chose to develop and assemble Vuse in the United States.
The company is converting about 70,000 square feet at its 1 million-square-foot Tobaccoville plant into turnkey production space for Vuse.
Reynolds plans to fill at least 200 new full-time jobs for the Vuse production. The full ramp-up could take up to four years.
The company declined to say how much of a capital investment it is making in high-speed production equipment other than “multimillion dollars.” Reynolds said Vuse production will continue at a contractor’s plant in Kansas.
What has made Reynolds officials so confident in Vuse is their claim that it provides “the perfect puff, first time, every time” because of technology that includes a digital microprocessor. That device works in conjunction with a memory chip to control key elements from vapor delivery to battery management.
What Reynolds is taking nationally is the Solo version, which features a flavor cartridge in original or menthol, a rechargeable power unit and a USB charger.
Replacement cartridges are sold in packs of two – each cartridge lasts about the equivalent of one pack of traditional cigarettes.
Bonnie Herzog, a Wells Fargo Securities analyst, estimated that overall industry e-cig revenue reached $2 billion in 2013. She projects it will increase up to $10 billion by 2017.
She predicts Reynolds will have $4 billion in revenue from e-cigs in 2021, compared with $3.9 billion from conventional cigarettes. That’s compared with minimal e-cig revenue and $6.4 billion in conventional cigarette revenue for 2013.