• May 20, 2024

Innovation Inside

 Innovation Inside

Credit: Timothy S. Donahue

Smoore is the manufacturer of several vaping products that have survived strict government scrutiny.

By Timothy S. Donahue

The U.S. premarket tobacco product application (PMTA) process is one of the world’s most rigorous regulatory pathways to market for nicotine products. Out of nearly 7 million applications, only 23 e-cigarette-style products have been approved for marketing by the Food and Drug Administration. Most of the approved products have been manufactured by a single company.

Smoore International Holdings, through its subsidiary, Shenzhen Smoore Technology, manufactures the Njoy Ace, Njoy Daily, Logic Power and Logic Pro devices. The Njoy Ace is the most technologically advanced vaping product to receive marketing approval in the U.S. It is the first e-cigarette authorized by the FDA that is equipped with ceramic coils that are manufactured by FEELM, the atomization brand owned by Smoore Technology. The Ace marketing orders mark the first approval by the FDA of a pod-style vaping product.

Garnering the marketing orders required plenty of forethought and investment from Smoore. Based on PMTA requirements, Smoore established a comprehensive analytical testing and safety assessment system, including the vaping industry’s first corporate toxicology laboratory, which explores the health impacts of exposure to e-cigarette vapor by means of cytotoxicity tests. These test the reaction of living cells to different components of e-cigarette vapor. The company has also developed the third generation of in-house safety standards, Smoore 3.0, which covers all of the necessary PMTA tests, including testing for harmful and potentially harmful constituents.

In a conversation with Tobacco Reporter, FEELM Marketing Director Sofia Luo attributed the success of Smoore products in the regulatory process to the company’s detailed and lengthy research and development process, which includes a rigorous testing and safety assessment system.

“FEELM ceramic coils have more than seven years of research and development. It is the first black ceramic atomization coil that presents high harm reduction performance in the electronic atomization industry. It provides more flavor than a cotton coil,” Luo said. “’FEELM Inside’s technology has also been upgraded and optimized continuously since its debut. We believe that only innovation from bottom to top can lead to industry breakthroughs and allow us to provide outstanding products for our clients.”

Because of their innovative atomization technology, FEELM coils significantly increase Smoore clients’ chances of garnering an FDA marketing order and meeting China’s e-cigarette standard. Currently, the top four Chinese e-cigarette brands with the highest production quotas (amounting to 80 percent of the total) are partnered with the FEELM brand.

A quality coil is a much-needed component for generating flavor in vaping products. Looking at the current regulatory landscape, tobacco will likely remain the dominating flavor in both the U.S and China. Tobacco taste-only policies could also impact other regions. According to Luo, Smoore has upgraded its ceramic coils, which can be specifically tailored toward tobacco flavors.

“To comply with the Chinese national standard for e-cigs released this year, domestic brands use materials directly extracted from tobacco for e-liquid production, making it harder for coil manufacturers to produce a suitable device,” explains Luo. “We developed a comprehensive technology solution [that helps Smoore’s] Chinese and overseas clients to study [and develop new innovations] and produce better e-cigarette products. This continuous innovation is the foundation for the advancement of Smoore and the rapid development of the e-cigarette industry.”

Innovation is important for the industry. Smoore has been a frontrunner in innovation and has applied for 4,300 global patents. The company must also be diligent in protecting its intellectual property. Last October, Smoore filed a complaint under the U.S. Tariff Act accusing 38 American and Canadian companies and individuals of infringing on three of its patents and one of its trademarks. As of April 20, 17 of the 38 defendant companies had signed consent letters or settlement agreements.

To stay ahead in innovation, Smoore has recruited over 1,500 R&D experts, accounting for more than 40 percent of its total staff. The company has applied for more than 500 vaping-related heating patents. Recently, Smoore launched the FEELM Max, the world’s first ceramic coil disposable pod solution. The ceramic coil allows for a higher level of safety and harm reduction compared to previous devices.

Smoore presented its FEELM Max disposable technology solution at the Indonesia Electronic Atomization Exhibition (IECIE 2022), which took place at the Jakarta International Convention and Exhibition Center in late October. Speaking at the exhibition, Smoore Vice President Clayton Shen highlighted the importance of technological innovation in driving progress in the vaping industry.

During his presentation, Shen explained that the closed system is the fastest-growing category in the next-generation tobacco market and will claim a significant market share over time. According to Smoore, ceramic coils solve longstanding coil challenges such as leaking liquid and a burnt taste. FEELM’s ceramic coils, said Shen, are used by many of the leading vapor product manufacturers, such as Relx and Njoy.

Founded in 2009, Smoore was one of the first companies to join the e-cigarette industry and later became China’s first billion-dollar vapor company. Smoore International Holdings, parent to Shenzhen Smoore Technology, is also the first vapor company to be listed on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong. Globally, Smoore is considered one of the most valuable vapor industry manufacturers. According to Frost and Sullivan, Smoore is No. 1 in the global vaping device market with a 22.8 percent market share in 2021.

Smoore is parent to Vaporesso and FEELM, two vaping brands that have gained global recognition for their innovative products. Vaporesso is an open system product brand created in 2015 and is “dedicated to establishing a smoke-free world while raising the quality of life for its users,” according to Luo. “Based on its continuous innovation, strict quality control and substantial commitment, Vaporesso creates products that can fit all levels and styles of vapers.”

FEELM is a closed system technology brand that has been devoted to providing comprehensive atomization technology for global tobacco giants and independent e-cigarette brands, according to Luo, adding that FEELM manufactures FEELM Inside and FEELM Air, the latest in closed pod systems, and FEELM Max, a disposable system.

 “This year, FEELM has started to bring the advanced technology of ceramic coils to the field of disposable vapes, hoping to bring our consumers of disposable products the same atomizing experiences as a closed pod system. Compared to other disposable products, FEELM presents a better performance on safety and harm reduction,” Luo said. “Developing and upgrading atomization technology to better optimize the user experience has been a goal, and we wanted to support our clients in launching disposable vapes with ceramic coils in the global market rapidly. This has provided end consumers with more choices.”

When Smoore International announced its financial results for 2021, it reported annual revenues of rmb13.75 billion ($2.16 billion), representing a year-on-year increase of approximately 37.4 percent. The company credited its FEELM brand and its innovative vaping solutions for its growing success. “The driving force of the atomization industry is technological innovations, which brings fundamental breakthroughs in product safety and flavor reproduction,” said Smoore board chairman Chen Zhiping at the time.

In its effort to provide consumers more choices in harm reduction products, Smoore has now launched Metex, its heat-not-burn division. The company’s goal is to create a new heating technology R&D platform “that connects the present and the future, balancing the beauty of technology and life,” according to the Metex website. Metex aims to provide its business partners with one-stop supply chain solutions, from core heating technology research to product development and final production.

While Smoore began as an e-cigarette company, the company increasingly views itself as a technology company. Recently, it changed its email address from @smoorecig to @smooretech to better reflect the company’s growing goals. Luo said that changing the email suffix was a way to “better convey our technology” concept to the public, and at least 10 percent of the company’s profits every year are reinvested into its science and technology components, including Smoore’s 14 research institutes that the company has established around the world.

Smoore is growing rapidly. The company expects the e-cigarette market to continue growing at a significant stride over the next five years. Industry experts say product innovation, too, is going to continue at a rapid pace. Luo said that smoking alternatives are becoming increasingly popular worldwide as more consumers and governments realize the significance of e-cigarettes in supporting harm reduction. Improvements in the manufacturing process, she says, will help increase the options for consumers, and manufacturers will inevitably move from semiautomated production lines toward fully automated production lines.

“Regarding the technical development in the overall e-cigarette market, we believe that improving safety, taste optimization and improving the efficiency of nicotine delivery are the major trends in the future. We also are conducting in-depth research on these important technologies internally,” Luo said. “As for the device development trend, we believe that consumers prefer to purchase environmentally friendly and carbon-reducing products as we move toward the future. Consumers need more diversified choices.”

Smoore’s new FEELM Max disposable pod line includes products featuring concepts that help minimize environmental concerns, according to the company. FEELM also published its Carbon Neutral Plan, and the company is committed to implementing increasingly high sustainability standards into its business strategy. “We are moving toward carbon neutrality,” Luo said. “It’s part of [our] strategic plan moving forward.”

With atomization technology being the foundation for Smoore, the company is looking toward more diversification over the next five years and growing outside the vaping industry. Luo said that the company is increasing its research and development investments for atomization improvements in the medical and beauty/cosmetics industries, for example.

“In addition to vaping products, Smoore is committed to integrating atomization technology into more industries, distributing these technologies to other industries,” Luo said. “Our medical atomization and beauty atomization products are now being tested. After their launch, they will broaden the business categories of Smoore and increase the scope of our clients. We are very excited about enhancing our future development through multiple driving incentives and wider roads. And we firmly believe that atomization makes life better.”