22nd Century Group’s VLN cigarettes are now available through a national pilot in select Chicagoland Circle K stores, the company announced in a press release.
Containing 95 percent less nicotine than conventional cigarettes, VLN cigarettes in December 2021 became the first combustible cigarettes to receive authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be marketed as modified-risk tobacco products.
When choosing Chicagoland for the pilot, 22nd Century noted smokers are found within every segment of the population, many of whom are looking for alternatives. The Centers for Disease Control estimates 15.5 percent of Illinois adults aged 18 years or older smoke cigarettes, higher than the national average of 12.5 percent, according to 2018 state and 2020 national statistics.
A pack of VLN cigarettes will be similarly priced to full nicotine premium brands, approximately between $9 and $12, depending on tax. Illinois is the second most expensive cigarette retail market in the United States.
The three- to six-month pilot will be the first U.S. sales of VLN King and VLN Menthol King cigarettes. 22nd Century is also launching VLN cigarettes in South Korea, its first international market. Following the pilot, 22nd Century and Circle K intend to expand sales nationwide to more than 7,000 stores in 48 states.
On April 4, 2022, the Illinois Attorney General’s Tobacco Enforcement Bureau added 22nd Century Group’s VLN cigarettes to the Illinois Directory of Participating Manufacturers listing. The registration was the final step before 22nd Century could begin distribution.