Ploom and JTI agree to split up, divide heat-not-burn brands

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US startup Ploom and its investor Japan Tobacco International (JTI) are to end their relationship and divide Ploom’s products between them.

JTI will take over Ploom’s ModelTwo heat-not-burn vaporiser, as well as the Ploom name. The ModelTwo heats tobacco supplied in pods, currently available in six flavours.

Ploom itself will retain rights to its Pax heat-not-burn product, which uses loose pipe tobacco, and change its name to Pax Labs. It will also buy back JTI’s minority stake in the company.

James Monsees, the San Francisco-based firm’s founder and CEO, said: “Both companies will profit from this fresh approach. Operating as Pax Labs, our focus on vaporization delivery products will fuel continued growth, especially as we enter new market segments.”

As well as Pax, the firm plans “rapid rollouts of new products and further expansion into international markets”, added Monsees.

JTI, the international operation of Japan Tobacco (JT), markets a range of major combustible brands around the world, including Camel, Benson & Hedges, Silk Cut, Hamlet, Old Holborn, and Amber Leaf.

Last year JT bought Zandera, the UK firm behind the successful E-Lites e-cigarette brand.

What This Means: We can expect the ModelTwo to become more available internationally, and most likely to be rebranded simply as Ploom – as is already the case in the UK.

In North America, meanwhile, it will be interesting to see whether the renamed Pax Labs follows the principles of Pax or ModelTwo in its next products, or takes an entirely new approach.

Also looming is the question of whether Pax will come under the control of the U.S. federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA); the agency’s proposed deeming regulations would bring it, as a hookah-style product, into the ambit of the Tobacco Control Act. Possibly the next Pax product will somehow seek to avoid this.

– Barnaby Page ECigIntelligence staff

Photo: Paul Fosselman

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