RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Reynolds American Inc. is expanding its Tobaccoville, North Carolina, manufacturing complex as it plans national distribution of its Vuse brand electronic cigarette this summer, the company said Friday.
The owner of nation's second-biggest tobacco company did not disclose the costs related to the ramp-up, which will include a multi-million dollar investment for high-speed manufacturing equipment, for competitive reasons but said the move would create more than 200 jobs over the next four years.
Reynolds, based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, launched Vuse in Colorado last June and plans the initial wave of national distribution next month.
Production is currently done at a contractor facility in Kansas, but the company said more production will be needed for the foreseeable future to meet anticipated market demand. The company will carve out about 70,000 square feet of space in its existing 2 million-square-foot Tobaccoville facility. It does not publicly provide the number of employees that work at the plant that also makes its cigarette brands, including Camel and Pall Mall.
The market for e-cigarettes has grown from the thousands of users in 2006 to several million worldwide and reached nearly $2 billion in sales last year. The battery-powered devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution, creating vapor that users inhale. E-cigarette users say the devices address both the addictive and behavioral aspects of smoking without the thousands of chemicals found in regular cigarettes. The Food and Drug Administration last month proposed regulating electronic cigarettes.