Former Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company Executive Joins 22nd Century

Will Spearhead the Company’s Strategic Partnerships with International Tobacco Companies

CLARENCE, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- 22nd Century Group, Inc. (NYSE MKT: XXII), a leader in tobacco harm reduction, announced today the hiring of Michael Zercher as the Company’s Vice President of Business Development. Mr. Zercher previously headed Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company’s international business operations based in Zurich, Switzerland.

From 2003-2009, while serving as Vice President and Managing Director of Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company International (a global subsidiary of Reynolds American, Inc. (NYSE: RAI) and maker of Natural American Spirit® premium cigarettes), Mr. Zercher grew the international American Spirit business from USD $8 Million to more than USD $100 Million in annual sales. Starting with operations in only a handful of countries outside of the United States, Mr. Zercher expanded aggressively and built a thriving international business with significant sales in more than 12 countries including Germany, Japan, France, Spain, and Switzerland. In 2015, parent company Reynolds American, Inc. sold Santa Fe Natural’s international business to Japan Tobacco Inc. (JAPAF) for USD $5 Billion – a value of approximately 30 times American Spirit’s annual international sales.

Despite generally declining global tobacco sales, Mr. Zercher oversaw double-digit revenue and profit growth for American Spirit cigarettes each year. At 22nd Century, Mr. Zercher will spearhead the Company’s efforts to form strategic partnerships with companies capable of widely commercializing 22nd Century’s proprietary brands. In addition, Mr. Zercher will pursue sales of the Company’s proprietary Very Low Nicotine tobacco leaf and high nicotine tobacco leaf.

In order to fully integrate with the 22nd Century executive team, Mr. Zercher is relocating his family from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Buffalo, New York. “I am excited to join the great team at 22nd Century and look forward to renewing the important industry relationships I built in Asia and in Europe,” explained Mr. Zercher. “International markets are literally crying out for unique and effective ways to reduce the harm from smoking and 22nd Century controls the most disruptive technology in the tobacco industry. I believe 22nd Century is on the verge of explosive growth.”

“Mike Zercher was instrumental in building a highly profitable, rapidly-growing American Spirit sales machine across Europe and in Japan,” explained Henry Sicignano, III, Chief Executive Officer and President at 22nd Century Group. “To be sure, Mike’s efforts and accomplishments at Reynolds were substantiated by the $5 Billion Japan Tobacco acquisition of American Spirit’s international business. We are confident Mike will likewise achieve great things at 22nd Century.”

About 22nd Century Group, Inc.

22nd Century is a plant biotechnology company focused on technology which allows it to increase or decrease the level of nicotine in tobacco plants and the level of cannabinoids in cannabis plants through genetic engineering and plant breeding. The Company’s primary mission is to reduce the harm caused by smoking. 22nd Century currently owns or exclusively controls more than 200 issued patents and more than 50 pending patent applications around the world. Visit for more information.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements: This press release contains forward-looking information, including all statements that are not statements of historical fact regarding the intent, belief or current expectations of 22nd Century Group, Inc., its directors or its officers with respect to the contents of this press release, including but not limited to our future revenue expectations. The words “may,” “would,” “will,” “expect,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “intend” and similar expressions and variations thereof are intended to identify forward-looking statements. We cannot guarantee future results, levels of activity or performance. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date that they were made. These cautionary statements should be considered with any written or oral forward-looking statements that we may issue in the future. Except as required by applicable law, including the securities laws of the United States, we do not intend to update any of the forward-looking statements to conform these statements to reflect actual results, later events or circumstances, or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. You should carefully review and consider the various disclosures made by us in our annual report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2015, filed on February 18, 2016, including the section entitled “Risk Factors,” and our other reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission which attempt to advise interested parties of the risks and factors that may affect our business, financial condition, results of operation and cash flows. If one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or if the underlying assumptions prove incorrect, our actual results may vary materially from those expected or projected.

Investor Relations:
IRTH Communications
Andrew Haag, 866-976-4784
Redington, Inc.
Tom Redington, 203-222-7399

Source: 22nd Century Group, Inc.