7-Eleven Picks Up VLN Reduced-Nicotine Cigarettes

Chain follows Circle K, Smoker Friendly stores, which already sell the product
VLN cigarettes
Photograph courtesy of 22nd Century Group Inc.

The largest convenience-store operator in the United States will start selling a reduced-nicotine cigarette. 7-Eleven, Irving, Texas, is picking up 22nd Century Group Inc.’s VLN products in more than 1,450 corporate locations in Texas, California and Florida.

An additional 3,100 franchise-owned stores in these states are incentivized to add VLN products with support from corporate and the national franchise owners organization, 22nd Century said, while not confirming the name of the No. 1 c-store chain. 

Other c-store chains like Circle K, owned by Laval, Quebec-based Alimentation Couche-Tard, and Smoker Friendly, Boulder, Colorado, have already started to sell the products in select stores as well.

VLN cigarettes smoke, taste and smell like a conventional cigarette, but with 95% less nicotine than conventional cigarettes, according to Buffalo, New York-based 22nd Century.

The Food and Drug Administration has said it will require tobacco companies to reduce the nicotine in all cigarettes sold in the United States to minimal or nonaddictive levels. The proposed rule is expected to be published by October. In January 2022, the FDA authorized the marketing of VLN King and VLN Menthol King combusted, filtered cigarettes as modified risk tobacco products (MRTPs).   

“Adding the country’s No. 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,” said 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.”

Miller, formerly CEO of Jacksonville, Florida-based tobacco company Swisher, started with 22nd Century in October 2022.

Miller said VLN is also scheduled to launch in other new regional c-store, pharmacy and military chains.

“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 Mish, CEO 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.”

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