Local e-cigarette makers say competition from Big Tobacco fuels interest in them.
Competition is heating up in the electronic cigarettes industry, but North Jersey manufacturers say they’re not worried. On Tuesday, Big Tobacco company Altria Group, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, announced it will begin selling an e-cigarette, MarkTen, in August, becoming the last of the three largest tobacco companies to enter the electronic market. On Monday, NJOY, an Arizona-based company that produces the top-selling e-cigarettes brand, said it had received $75 million in financing from investors including Facebook and Napster entrepreneur Sean Parker to fuel expansion.
The battery-powered cartridges that turn nicotine-infused liquid into vapor are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as tobacco products, but the FDA says the safety and health impact of the devices has not been studied. New Jersey in 2010 banned the smoking of e-cigarettes in public and workplaces.
Executives at three New Jersey companies that have established strong footholds in the fledgling e-cigarette market said the Altria Group and NJOY announcements are a sign that investors and big corporations recognize that e-cigarettes are gaining mainstream acceptance, and have huge growth potential.
“It looks scary, right? It looks like a lot of competitors are coming in, but they’re putting such a valuation on our business that we’re starting to get interest from some private equity funds now as investors,” said Michael Tolmach, chief executive of Eonsmoke LLC, which recently moved from Garfield to a 7,000-square-foot office and warehouse space in Clifton. Tolmach said interest from potential investors escalated “after Sean Parker put his money in the industry.”