Reynolds Launches Nicotine-Free Flavored Disposable Line

Tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds is introducing nicotine-free disposable vapes available in six non-tobacco flavors today in the United States. The products will not be sold under the company’s Vuse brand, but will instead be branded SENSA.

Reynolds, a subsidiary of British American Tobacco (BAT), says SENSA will be sold with the same marketing restrictions as its nicotine-containing Vuse products, some of which have been authorized by the FDA. Reynolds will require retailers to sell only to customers 21 or older, although that isn’t a legal requirement in many states. It will also be displayed in stores next to age-restricted products, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The device provides “5,000 seconds of puffs,” according to the Journal, and has a removable battery to facilitate recycling. It will retail for $19.99, making it more expensive than most popular disposable vapes.

Reynolds is not seeking FDA authorization for SENSA because the company believes the nicotine-free product falls outside FDA jurisdiction.

The 2016 Deeming Rule that gave the FDA authority over vaping products defines zero-nicotine e-liquid as a tobacco product because it can be modified by adding nicotine. But the agency has admitted in the past that a sealed, nicotine-free device incapable of modification—like a disposable or pod—would probably not fall under the agency’s authority. 

There has always been a small market for nicotine-free vapes, which Reynolds claims is now 1-2 percent of the convenience store/gas station segment of the vape market.

Although the SENSA flavors—including watermelon frost, passionfruit frost and berry fusion—seem almost identical to typical flavors in nicotine-containing disposable vapes decried by the FDA as “youth-appealing,” Reynolds said in a press release that SENSA “is intended for adult tobacco and vapor consumers and does not include flavors intended to appeal to the underage.”

Reynolds itself has waged a war against flavored disposables that threaten sales of its Vuse vaping products and combustible cigarettes. Reynolds has described other companies’ “dessert and candy flavors” as a risk to youth, and the products themselves as a danger to public health, even implying they might be “laced with fentanyl.”

Reynolds’ parent company BAT sells flavored nicotine-containing disposable vapes under the Vuse name in other countries.