Reynolds American Inc. has created a subsidiary devoted to product development, innovation and commercialization of vapor and nicotine products.
RAI Innovations Co. becomes the direct parent of R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co., best known for making top-selling electronic cigarette Vuse, and Niconovum USA, which makes nicotine replacement therapy gum Zonnic.
Susan Cameron, Reynolds’ chief executive and president, said RAI Innovations will help the company accelerate the pace of going to market with new products.
Carolyn Hanigan will serve as RAI Innovations’ president, effective Jan. 19. Hanigan has 20 years of experience in consumer packaged-goods companies. Tommy Payne remains as president of Niconovum USA, while Carlos Lindo becomes president of RJR Vapor.
The creation of the subsidiary comes about five weeks after R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. signed a vapor technology sharing and licensing agreement with a subsidiary of British American Tobacco Ltd.
The agreement, which runs through Dec. 31, 2022, enables Reynolds and Nicoventures to collaborate on next-generation vapor products, conduct joint research and development activities, and cooperate on regulatory, scientific and manufacturing issues.
Reynolds spokesman David Howard said Dec. 1 that although the tech-sharing agreement’s focus will be on developing vapor technologies going forward, the companies will share technologies on current products, such as Reynolds’ top-selling electronic cigarette, Vuse, and four Vuse product extensions unveiled recently to investors — Port, Pro, Connect and Fob.
Vuse is made by RJR Vapor at the 2-million-square-foot Tobaccoville plant.
Howard said he could not speculate on whether the agreement could lead to BAT distributing Vuse globally, as many analysts have projected. Such an arrangement could save Reynolds the immense expense of re-establishing a major global distribution chain.
Port may be the most intriguing of the Vuse product extensions. It features a “dock and lock” closed format that allows for refillable vapor liquid products to be inserted into a Vuse cartridge. Reynolds has described it “as the vapor tank system re-imagined.” It has been rolled out in test markets in Pennsylvania.
Pro was marketed in a video as “an innovative closed-cartridge system that provides the performance of a tank system in an easy-to-use cartridge format with four times the battery life and the ability to manage vapor strength.” The plan is to launch Pro at retail only in early 2016.
Connect and Fob are devices aimed at the technology behind Vuse. Howard said the five Vuse products are considered as “current generation” products.
“We don’t have any specific numbers at this time, but early reports have been positive,” Howard said Tuesday.