Big Tobacco company buys into vape shop chain

Is the Marlboro manufacturer getting ready to sell IQOS in vape shops?

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avail-altria

A major chain of independent vape shops has sold a share of its business to cigarette manufacturer Altria.

Avail Vapor LLC is a Virginia-based company that owns 102 vape shops in 12 states. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Altria revealed the purchase at and investor meeting in Richmond Thursday. Altria didn’t specify how much cash was invested in the vapor business.

Avail sells its own line of e-liquid, produced at its lab in Chesterfield County,VA. The company also sells standard vaping devices of all types. Avail has been in business since 2013. The Times-Dispatch describes Avail as the largest retailer of vaping products in the country.

"We have already benefited in various ways from this investment in Avail”

Altria sells a cigalike product called MarkTen through its vapor subsidiary Nu Mark LLC. But the vape shops are probably intended to market the IQOS heat-not-burn product, manufactured by Philip Morris International (PMI).

Altria, which sells cigarettes using the brand Philip Morris USA, has the licensing rights to sell IQOS in the U.S. — which could happen as soon as the FDA approves one of the applications PMI has submitted. PMI was spun off as a company from the original Philip Morris, and sells Marlboro and other Altria brands outside the U.S.

The international cigarette giant has applied for marketing orders from the FDA through two paths, a premarket tobacco application (PMTA), and also a modified risk tobacco product (MRTP) submission. It is widely believed that the FDA will approve the PMTA from PMI.

According to Avail’s marketing director, the company’s mission isn’t changing. Maggie Gowen told the Times-Dispatch that Avail will continue to help smokers transition to vaping.

“We have already benefited in various ways from this investment in Avail,” Jody Begley, president of Altria’s subsidiary Nu Mark LLC, told the newspaper. “Through their retail stores, we have learned a great deal about educating adult tobacco consumers about new products.”

Jim McDonald

I spend most of my time studying the regulatory, legislative and scientific challenges to vaping, advocating for our right to exist, and talking with others who do the same. Consider me a source for information, and feel free to agree or disagree with anything I say. I love good coffee and sweet Michigan cherries. My childhood hero was Gordie Howe.

  • cohones1974

    Hmmm… So it starts… The war against vaping has just begun… Or not? Who knows… My bet goes to the big sisters… They will wipe us from the face of the earth… 😀

  • Jennifer Thompson

    Top Tobacco brands have also started manufacturing eCig and other vaping stuff, it’s a clear indication that vaping is in demand and people prefer it over traditional smoking. In UK, Vapoholic is a reliable brand for eJuices, eCigs, Shake and vapes.

  • Randall Malcom

    Another example of preferred branding within the FDA. As long as a government agency that should be committed to our well being is permitting an industry, no matter how large, to dictate policy, the consumer will have no choice other than to resort to a hazardous product. There is a word for what Altria is doing: MONOPOLIZING. Funny that, isn’t there laws that prevent that kind of thing?

  • Matt M

    Also heard they bought Vape Forward.

  • Alex Burton

    the IQOS still uses ciggarettes inthem i quit smoking since i vape almost 1 year ago and anything that uses ciggarettes should be pulledd of the market because it KILLS PEOPLE VAPING IS FOR WINNERS ///SMOKING IS FOR LOSERS WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE A WINNER OR A LOSER ME I AM A WINNER I VAPE ONLY

  • Alex Burton

    LETS SEE IF THEY HAVE ANY PULL ,,,GET THEM TO PULL THAT 40% TAX HIKE OFF OF THE ,PA SALES TAX FOR VAPING SHOPS TO OPEN BACK UP IF THEY DONT HAVE ANY PULL TO HELP THEN BOYCOTT ALL THAT THEY GET INTO EVEN SELL OUT VAPE

  • Michael Patrick

    Big Tobacco stepping in. Oh shit.Vape shops talking about how they hate tobacco and then selling to Big Tobacco .Wtf? I know greenbacks talk bullshit walks.Big tobacco taking over they will buy the shops by the 10000’S