Kentucky tobacco grower markets liquid nicotine

jpatton1@herald-leader.comMay 6, 2014 

A Kentucky company is looking to cash in on the cultural shift to e-cigarettes with the product farmers know best: tobacco.

USA Liquid Nicotine, a venture of Kentucky tobacco grower Brian Furnish of Cynthiana, will sell liquid nicotine extracted from tobacco grown in the southeastern United States. The liquid is produced in Albany, Ga.

"We are excited not only to offer a high-quality nicotine product for the emerging and rapidly growing e-liquid industry, but also the ability to support our local farmers and U.S. agriculture," Furnish said in a news release.

The $2 billion-plus e-cigarette market is expected by market analysts to top the combustible cigarette market in sales within a decade.

Or it might be sooner, now that the three major cigarette companies have all expanded into electronic cigarettes.

Vaporizers, which use liquid nicotine to produce a vapor that mimics the sensation and buzz of smoking without as many harmful effects, are about a third of the total electronic market.

But the liquid tank vaporizer segment of the market is growing at twice the rate of the more traditional "cig-alikes," according to Wells Fargo's Bonnie Herzog, who tracks the market. The liquids can be custom-flavored, and "vape shops" are springing up to cater to customers who want to experiment beyond menthol.

Most of the liquid nicotine currently used is produced in China, India and Europe, according to USA Liquid Nicotine. American-grown tobacco grown is seen as safer because of tighter limits on pesticides, such as DDT, which is banned in the United States.

According to USA Liquid Nicotine, third-party testing has found heavy metals and higher levels of pesticide residues in nicotine from foreign-grown plants.

Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: @janetpattonhl.

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