Wellstone Ups Distribution

Its cigarettes now available in more than 60 c-stores and other retail outlets in SoCal

TIMBERLAKE, N.C. -- Wellstone Filters Inc., a developer, producer and distributor of branded tobacco products and tobacco filter technology, said it is continuing to expand its distribution channel in the Southern California territory. It now has engaged five major distributors there, with distribution in more than 60 retail and convenience stores.

Harry Poole, vice president of sales of Wellstone Filters, said, "We are encouraged by the success of our distribution strategy since the official commercial launch [image-nocss] of our Wellstone-branded tobacco products at the beginning of this calendar year. We have employed a distribution strategy that includes national wholesalers as well as regional distributors that call on individual stores. We are not only pleased at the apparent initial acceptance of Wellstone by distributors, retailers and consumers in the Southern California territory; but we are also pleased with a rise in re-order rates from these distributors and buying accounts."

L. Jeremiah Hand, president and CEO of Wellstone Filters, added, "We entered this market with the belief that we could combine a premium blended tobacco with a proprietary filtering technology to produce a great tasting, less-harsh cigarette. At the same time, we believed we could fill a need in a market niche that has been neglected, which is to provide a very good cigarette at a value price. Since our commercial launch of the Wellstone-branded cigarette this year, we are gratified at the acceptance and increase in demand for our products. Southern California has proved to be important in both validating the quality of our tobacco products and the feasibility of our distribution strategy.

Samuel Veasey, COO and CFO of Wellstone Filters, said, "Industry reports indicate that [the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA)-approved] discounted-value tier' of cigarette brands is experiencing significant volume growth. Wellstone Filters believes its tobacco products, which have been MSA approved, and which are distributed using a discount pricing strategy, will gain a competitive advantage as a result of its premium quality branding. We believe that the growth rates in this discount-value tier, which vastly exceed the growth rates in the other competitive tiers, is well-known by retailers and may be viewed by them as an opportunity for improving their retail sales volume and profitability."

The company currently has approvals for distribution in 43 states, it said.

Wellstone Filters LLC was formed in 1998 and, as a result of a reverse merger transaction in 2001, subsequently changed its name to Wellstone Filters Inc. It is engaged in the development, marketing and distribution of a proprietary cigarette filter technology and tobacco products distributed under the Wellstone brand. Currently, Wellstone's family of branded cigarettes includes Wellstone Red, Wellstone Smooth Blue, and Wellstone Menthol, all of which come in King Size and 100's.