Smoker Friendly to Offer Private-Label E-Cig Brand

First time company has expanded product line outside licensee network

Published in CSP Daily News

Terry Gallagher Jr., Glenn Kassel

BOULDER, Colo. -- Smoker Friendly International said that it will now be offering the U.S.-made Smoker Friendly Premium Brand Electronic Cigarette line, made by Freedom Smokeless, to retailers and distributors nationwide. Since 2009, Smoker Friendly has been selling the brand's e-cigarette starter kits, express kits, cartridge refills, disposables and accessories only within the Smoker Friendly chain.

This is the first time that the Boulder, Colo.-based licensee of almost 1,000 locations has expanded its private-label product line outside of its licensee network.

Smoker Friendly is beginning its rollout of the e-cigarette product line, with retail price points as low as $6.99, to convenience stores, large retailers, grocery stores and select distributors.

"We thought the timing was right to expand our brand through other retail chains and distributors," said Terry Gallagher Jr., president of Smoker Friendly. "We know there's a pent-up demand for an established company to take a leadership position in this relatively new category; we've heard this from our distributor and retailer industry friends time and again. There are way too many startups and opportunistic marketing companies selling foreign made electronic cigarettes, and it has gotten very confusing for category buyers."

He added, "Smoker Friendly is a well-established, 23-year-old tobacco company, with vast experience and expertise in the tobacco industry, so distributors and retailers know we're here for the long haul, which is critically important when representing electronic cigarettes, a fast-growing new tobacco product category."

Smoker Friendly selected Freedom Smokeless, a manufacturer of e-cigarettes and nicotine e-liquid, to manufacture its e-cigarette line in 2009.

"We liked the quality of their products, service and support, and were relieved to know the e-liquid is made here in America; that the e-liquid is batch tested in an FDA-registered lab and that cartridges are filled here thanks to some high tech automation. Our goal is to have the Smoker Friendly brand of electronic cigarettes become a household name," said Mary Szarmach, Smoker Friendly's vice president of sales and marketing.

Glenn Kassel, president of Freedom Smokeless, said, "We are honored to manufacture the Smoker Friendly brand and are thrilled that it will be available in retail establishments across the country. Retailers like the fact that they are getting a competitively priced product that's Made in America with a highly trusted brand name behind it. Tobacco buyers for chains like all of the safeguards we have taken to ensure that our product is safe."

He added, "We have already received orders from distributors and retailers who were waiting for an established brand to emerge as the leader in this category. "

Smoker Friendly is America's largest cigarette and tobacco store (CTS) retailer. The Smoker Friendly Authorized Dealer Program is designed for existing retail tobacco store operators who wish to market their own brand of competitively priced, private-label products within an exclusive territory that is geographically protected. This program is for the tobacco retailer who would like the advantages of a buying group; wants more interaction with other cigarette and tobacco store retailers including information and idea sharing; clout with manufacturers; and the greater synergies that a nationally known private-label brand like Smoker Friendly provides.

Currently there are almost 1,000 stores across the United States with The SF Private-Label Tobacco Family.

San Clemente, Calif.-based Freedom Smokeless' Made in the USA line of e-cigarettes and cartridge products are sold in thousands of tobacco shops, retail outlets and c-stores across the United States.