Reynolds American Inc. lined up its future more closely with electronic cigarettes, with the announcement of a turnkey production operation requiring at least 200 new full-time jobs at the company’s mammoth plant in Tobaccoville. The R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company is based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and was founded by R. J. Reynolds in 1875. It is the second-largest tobacco company in the U.S. (behind Altria Group) and an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc. which in turn is 42% owned by British American Tobacco of the United Kingdom.
Reynolds expand VUSE and will invest a multimillion-dolar sum in equipment at its manufacturing complex to create the next generation of e-cigarettes. VUSE is the top-selling e-cigarette in Colorado and Utah, currently the only two states with broad distribution, with Reynolds planning a national rollout starting from June.
‘If our past successes in converting smokers to VUSE are any indication of our future response from adult tobacco consumers nationwide, we’ll need new-generation, high-speed equipment and a larger workforce to support market demand,’ said in a statement Susan Cameron, Chief Executive of the company. ‘Vuse is a game-changing product and a tangible demonstration of our companies’ mission to transform the tobacco industry,’ she added.
Vuse contains sensors that communicate with a memory chip to help monitor and regulate the power, heat and cartridge performance ‘to ensure a perfect puff first time, every time,’ according to Danny Herko, the company’s senior vice president for research and development.
E-cigs are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution in a disposable cartridge and create a vapor that is inhaled. Reynolds has plans with the new production to offer rechargeable products as well.
Moreover, although Cameron said Reynolds considered other out-of-state options for this expansion, ‘the highly trained workforce here in our home state of North Carolina made it the perfect choice for our expansion location.’
‘Transforming our community for the better is part of our overall commitment to transforming the tobacco industry,’ Cameron said. ‘We’ve done that in a number of ways – through philanthropy, through the donation of properties and buildings to fuel economic development, and through employee volunteerism.’
Mayor Allen Joines is delighted with the new investment and declared that it is ‘extraordinarily exciting to see Reynolds adding jobs to our local economy.’
‘This company has played such a pivotal role in the development of our community, and I am delighted that it is prospering and is able to continue its strong presence here.’
The company said it will pay a starting production wage of more than $40,000 a year, plus benefits. This level of wage is about $15,000 to $20,000 below what Reynolds traditionally had paid for manufacturing workers and is another reflection of the company’s restructuring initiative of 2012.