Former Swisher CEO to Head 22nd Century Group’s Tobacco Business

Company makes VLN reduced-nicotine cigarettes
VLN cigarettes
Photograph courtesy of 22nd Century Group Inc.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — 22nd Century Group Inc., the maker of VLN reduced-nicotine cigarettes, has promoted a Swisher veteran to lead up its tobacco business.

John Miller, who became CEO of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Swisher in March 2021 and then retired from the position in September 2021, will lead 22nd Century’s tobacco business team as COO. He will be filling the role of former President and COO Michael Zercher, who left 22nd Century on Sept. 30. James Mish will assume the title of corporate president.

“With exceptionally successful VLN pilot results in hand, 22nd Century is expanding sales and planning rollouts in strategic regions across the United States,” Mish said. “In order to coordinate all of the critical elements of this expansion plus additional planned market launches, John Miller, who already leads our tobacco product, marketing and partnership efforts, will assume full operational responsibility for the tobacco product lines, bringing to bear his more than 30 years of industry experience to direct a fully integrated national VLN sales strategy.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in January issued a modified risk tobacco product designation to Buffalo, N.Y.-based 22nd Century for its VLN King and VLN Menthol King combusted, filtered cigarettes. VLN cigarettes smoke, taste and smell like a conventional cigarette, but with 95% less nicotine than conventional cigarettes, according to 22nd Century.

The cigarettes are growing their presence in Colorado and Illinois convenience stores such as Circle K and Smoker Friendly.

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