OTP, Alternatives Ignite Interest at NACS Show

Everything from heat-not-burn devices to nicotine pouches piqued retailers’ interest on the NACS Show exhibit floor in early October, despite growing controversy over flavored tobacco and vaping products.

Retailers walking the exhibits saw Altria Group, Richmond, Va., unveiling a full-sized pop-up store for its U.S. introduction of the heat-not-burn IQOS device, and they saw Swedish Match introduce new flavors for its Zyn nicotine pouch.

At the same time, controversy lingered over the category as state and federal officials have taken significant steps in recent weeks to stop minors from using flavored e-cigarettes. Prior to the NACS Show in Atlanta, at least three states—Massachusetts, Michigan and New York—issued executive orders to remove or restrict the products at retail. Several other states initiated similar actions after the Oct. 1-4 trade show concluded.

Still, foot traffic at many of the tobacco exhibits remained high. Click through for a rundown of products seen on the NACS Show floor this year.

Photographs by CSP Staff

Altria Group

One of the highlights of the Altria booth this year was a modular, full-sized pop-up store that the company intended to deploy this fall during its introduction of IQOS in Atlanta, its first U.S. market. While officials asked that reporters not take photographs of the unit, they said it fits into an average-sized vehicle parking space. Visually, the retail pod had a clean, modern design and featured the IQOS heat sticks. The stores will function as 21-and-older-only education and retail spaces.

Richmond, Va.-based Altria also talked about its recent purchase of 80% interest in a nicotine pouch line from a Swiss holding company. The portfolio of On products consists of seven flavors and five nicotine strengths for a total of 35 SKUs, the company said.

Other notable displays in the Altria exhibit area included the John Middleton section and its new Blues line of Black & Mild products, as well as the display of Copenhagen Wintergreen moist snuff.

BIC Corp.

Tobacco accessories manufacturer BIC Corp., Shelton, Conn., displayed several new lines of cigarette lighters designed with novel themes.

Fontem Ventures

Celebrating its 10th year of marketing its blu e-cigarette, Charlotte, N.C.-based Fontem Ventures touted both a new flavor—Fresh Cool Mint—and an app to help retailers train front-line employees on its myblu devices and related items. On the app, clerks play digital games that educate them about Fontem products.

Fully Loaded Chew

Akron, Ohio-based Fully Loaded Chew offered tobacco-free dip in full, half or zero nicotine strengths.

Harbor Convenience Retail

A maker of tobacco merchandising displays and shelving, Grand Haven, Mich.-based Harbor Convenience Retail showcased a shelf-monitoring system that tracked product as packs moved from shelves to customers’ hands at the point-of-sale. Harbor featured a system from Vend Data Media Solutions, Wilmington, Ohio.

ImageWorks Display & Marketing

Addressing the changing needs of the tobacco retailer, ImageWorks Display & Marketing, Winston-Salem, N.C., set up a full backbar in its booth. While some shelves were standard steel, others were fashioned with hard plastic to accommodate shorter shelves and variations to its standard format.

ITG Brands

In addition to its blu e-cigarettes marketed through its Charlotte, N.C.-based Fontem Ventures subsidiary, ITG Brands, Greensboro, N.C., offered its Winston, Kool and Maverick cigarettes, as well as its Backwoods, Dutch Masters and Phillies cigars.

JT International USA

Carrying a range of tobacco products, JT International USA, Teaneck, N.J., displayed multiple cigarettes brands, including its value-priced LD brand. In terms of other tobacco products (OTP), its Logic e-cigarette was prominent, as was its PrimeTime large cigars, Smoker’s Choice and Gold Rush filtered cigars and Sparrow pipe tobacco.

Juul Labs

With a focus on age verification, officials in the Juul Labs booth demonstrated its new point-of-sale based system that allows sales of Juul e-cigarettes and vaping pods only to customers with valid, of-age IDs for that market. The system, called the Retail Access Control Standards (RACS), will automatically stop a sale if a cashier scans a Juul product and immediately request a valid ID to continue. To prevent people buying in bulk for possible resale to minors, RACS will also not allow a customer to buy more than four Juul-branded items during any single sale.

With federal and state health officials scrutinizing the category and Juul being a dominant brand, officials with the San Francisco-based e-cigarette maker have been actively addressing the issue of minors and vaping.

Last year, Altria purchased a minority stake in Juul and recently placed two Altria executives in key posts at the vaping company.

Kretek International

Moorpark, Calif.-based Kretek International, an importer, marketer and distributor of specialty tobacco products, announced the formation of a new company, Dryft Sciences, which will also have its headquarters in Moorpark. The new operating company will focus exclusively on Dryft nicotine pouches, the oral nicotine products that Kretek has distributed in the United States since July 2016. The newly formed Dryft Sciences will lead the national rollout of Dryft nicotine pouches by expanding production capacity, distribution and marketing efforts.

Liggett Vector Brands

Liggett Vector Brands featured two national-selling discount brands, Pyramid and Eagle 20’s. The Morrisville, N.C.-based company said it offers competitive trade programs and incentives along with a national sales force.

National Tobacco Co.

The booth for National Tobacco Co, Louisville, Ky., and its Turning Point brands featured, among other things, the Zig Zag brand of rolling paper. Also, in the cannabidiol (CBD) section of the trade show floor, National Tobacco exhibited the nu-X CBD vape pen and Rip Stick vaping device with pods in multiple flavors.

New Image Global

In addition to its line of cigar wraps, Tustin, Calif.-based New Image Global and its Royal Blunts brand has introduced wrappers made from industrial hemp. Flavors within its True Hemp line of wrappers include Banana, Sticky Gelato, Honey, Flav-R-Less, Mango and Russian Cream.


New York-based e-cigarette maker NJOY offered its Ace device and an array of flavored pods.

Premier Manufacturing

Chesterfield, Mo.-based Premier Manufacturing offered a wide range of cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco. One of its newest products is a premium cigarette line called Manitou. Other cigarette offers included 1839 and Wildhorse brands.

Republic Tobacco

Offering a full line of roll-your-own and make-your-own tobaccos, cigarette papers, filter tubes and accessories, Glenview, Ill.-based Republic Tobacco displayed a number of brands, including 4Aces, JOB and OCB.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

Under the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. umbrella, two products stood out at the NACS Show: Reynolds’ nicotine pouch product, Velo, and its e-cigarette, Vuse.

On the Vuse side, commercials featuring the advanced technology have been hitting network airwaves; also, like other e-cigarette companies, Reynolds Vapor has started a $1 kit promotion in its ads. Over the past year, some vapor companies have been running value-based promotions for its kits, hoping that increasing the distribution of branded devices will lead to trial and purchase of their vaping pods.

Reynolds officials announced in July that the company is expanding its “modern oral” portfolio with the nicotine pouch Velo, describing it as a line of tobacco leaf-free and spit-free nicotine pouches. A tobacco-derived nicotine product, Velo comes in pouches and contains no tobacco leaf or other tobacco plant matter apart from the nicotine extracted from the tobacco plant, the company said.

Swedish Match

Featuring its Game and Night Owl cigarillos, Richmond, Va.-based Swedish Match also exhibited its popular nicotine pouch, Zyn. The booth displayed two new flavors of Zyn, Smooth and Citrus, while the Night Owl cigarillos featured Classic and Tropical flavors.

Swisher International

In addition to its wide array of flavored cigarillos, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Swisher International had several other products and brands on display. Among these items were its Hempire rolling papers; the E-Alternative Solutions’ vaping device called Leap; and Rogue-branded, tobacco-free products that included pouches, lozenges, tablets and gum.

Xcaliber International

Pryor, Okla.-based Xcaliber International offered a variety of cigarettes, including the Edgefield discount brand.