LAS VEGAS — While the variety of flavors and innovation was evident on the show floor of the Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) earlier this year, the abundance stood in contrast to the looming U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deadline for manufacturers to apply for new-product authorization, because that complex and expensive process may force many products that were on display off the market by this spring, according to officials following the tobacco industry.
Combined with FDA restrictions on flavored vape cartridges announced earlier this year, the double whammy may affect not only products that retailers saw at TPE but also many products currently on c-store shelves, said experts speaking during the TPE educational sessions. For most vape and new tobacco products to either remain or return to U.S. markets, manufacturers must submit premarket tobacco applications (PMTAs), which are due May 12, 2020, according to Tom Briant, executive director for tobacco retailing association NATO, based in Lakeville, Minn.
Virtually all vaping products will have to undergo the FDA’s new-product review process, Briant said during an educational session. Manufacturers that do submit PMTAs can leave their products on the market while the FDA reviews their submissions, he said.
Unfortunately, PMTAs themselves typically require a vast amount of scientific and supportive material, which can be costly and cumbersome. The requirements will most likely force manufacturers to strategically select which SKUs they want to put through the process, Briant said.
Still, with the pending deadline as a backdrop, exhibitors showed a wide breadth of products—including cannabidiol or CBD products—leaving retailers to sort through them with a cautious eye.
Here are some vaping and tobacco manufacturers and products that stood out …
Altadis USA, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has several cigar products and brands, including Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, H. Upmann, and Trinidad. The company started in 1918 and over the years has gained access to tobacco leaves from growers worldwide. This allows the company to provide high-quality products at a fair price, officials said. Today, Altadis operates production facilities in the Dominican Republic and Honduras, and it partners with factories in Mexico and Nicaragua.
Walled Lake, Mich.-based Brassworld Inc., is a wholesaler of what the company said is the largest collection of Zippo-branded lighters in the United States, including the recently launched series of Zippo Blu butane lighters, Zippo Hand Warmers and Zippo fuel and accessories.
Akron, Ohio-based Fully Loaded featured a “chew” product that is a tobacco-free nicotine dip. The product is made in the United States with all food-grade ingredients. Customers can pick long cut or pouches, which are in full, half and zero nicotine strength, the company said.
King Palm, Ontario, Calif., provides an all-natural alternative to combustible cigarettes, with a tobacco-free leaf roll that contains no glue or additives, the company said. Its two-for-$1.99 Mini Rolls are sold through established wholesalers, allowing consumers access through c-stores and smoke shops across America. The company said it has a social media following of more than 225,000 fans worldwide.
Kretek International, the Moorpark, Calif.-based organizer of the Tobacco Plus Expo, had several products on display, including its Vintage series of little cigars and its Dryft nicotine pouches. Representatives on the show floor demonstrated a new shelving unit for the Dryft cans, which allowed employees easy access.
La Aurora Barrel Aged by Karl Malone
Former NBA star Karl Malone addressed the TPE gathering as its keynote speaker, urging retailers to respect front-line employees, calling them their “soldiers.” He spoke of the path that brought him to the cigar business and his eventual product called the La Aurora Barrel Aged by Karl Malone, which is also his Cumming, Ga.-based company. He said it took several trips to Latin America to learn about the craft of cigar making and to convince local growers of his intent to market quality products.His cigars’ wrappers and binders come from Ecuador, while their fillers are a blend of tobaccos from Peru, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.
National Tobacco Co.
Louisville, Ky.-based National Tobacco Co. carried a wide range of organic, hemp-based rolling papers, building on its popular Zig-Zag brand. On the TPE show floor, National Tobacco featured its Organic Hemp, Slow Burning, Ultra Thin and Unbleached papers.
JOB Virgin Rolling Papers from Republic Tobacco, Glenview, Ill., are vegan and GMO-free and made from fibers that retain their native brown hue, the company said. The thin and slightly porous papers are available in single wide and slim sizes. A case contains 40 boxes, and a four-box counter display is available for merchandising.