New “High Nicotine” Cigarette Hits Minnesota Market

A new and unusual brand of cigarettes is being marketed in Minnesota. RED SUN cigarettes are promoted as “The BOLDEST, most UNAPOLOGETIC, and HIGHEST NICOTINE cigarettes in America!” in local publications like City Pages. RED SUN cigarettes are manufactured by a company called 22nd Century which has a mission to: “reduce the harm caused by smoking.” 22nd Century has three subsidiaries: Botanical Genetics, Hercules Pharmaceuticals, and Goodrich Tobacco. Botanical Genetics is “focused on natural, safe, and effective cannabis-based products.” Hercules Pharmaceuticals is working to develop a smoking cessation product called X-22. According to the company website, X-22 is: “a prescription smoking cessation aid in development for smokers who wish to quit. X-22 tastes, smells, and smokes like any other cigarette. It works by controlling the amount of nicotine a smoker receives, creating a very novel therapy for smokers to quit.”

red sun
RED SUN ad from City Pages, February 2016

RED SUN is manufactured under the Goodrich Tobacco label which employs Barry Saintsing as the company’s Master Tobacconist. Saintsing retired from a 36 year career at RJ Reynolds where he was “Master Product Developer.” Several members of the Board of Directors also have tobacco industry experience- mostly with the Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company (manufacturer of American Spirit). The company has an interesting marketing model. For example, they are offering $1,500 to anyone who is willing to get a tattoo of the RED SUN logo. They also go after the “natural” market by planting a tree for every case of cigarettes sold and rolling their cigarettes in flax paper that is gluten free.

Ultimately, RED SUN aims to provide cigarette smokers with a choice of nicotine levels. As such, the company is currently pursuing a Modified Risk Tobacco Product application with the Food and Drug Administration for a brand of “low nicotine” cigarettes that they hope to sell in the U.S. They currently sell a brand of low nicotine cigarettes in Europe under the brand name MAGIC which is marketed as having 95% less nicotine than regular cigarettes.

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