CN Creative is a manufacturer and supplier of e-cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapy products, set up by David Newns and Chris Lord in 2008. The company was acquired by British American Tobacco (BAT) in December 2012. The cost of this acquisition has not been disclosed, but market research company Euromonitor International estimates it to be “somewhere between £30-£50 million”. The company website states that its goal is: "to deliver revolutionary products and services that make a positive difference to the lives of smokers." CN Creative developped BAT's electronic cigarette Vype.
CN Creative used to advertise its Quit Direct as an "NHS accredited supplier of comprehensive Stop Smoking Services". However, the NHS accreditation was terminated after CN Creative was acquired by BAT (more detail below). In August 2013, BAT merged CN Creative with Nicoventures (set up by the tobacco company to commercialise regulatory-approved, non-tobacco nicotine products) and BAT Research & Development.
CN Creative’s Board of Directors consists of the company’s two founders and two senior BAT staff members, according to the company’s website in October 2013:
- David Newns – Chief Executive Officer (CEO) - he is also the co-founder of e-cigarette brand Intellicig, in short “an experienced entrepreneur with a background in corporate pharma and project management” rather than in tobacco.
- Chris Lord – Chief Science Officer (CSO) – He is the co-founder of Intellicig and responsible for the development of e-cig’s “unique hardware”. Lord has twenty years’ experience in the medical device industry designing innovative engineering solutions.
- Philippe Zell – a director of CN Creative and Nicoventures since December 2012. According to the CN Creative website, he joined BAT as Head of Non Combustible Business Development in 2012. His previous career in marketing was with pharmaceutical companies Novartis and Proctor & Gamble.
- Steve Burton – joined BAT in 1995 where he held several senior positions, primarily in the Treasury function.
After acquiring CN Creative, in early 2013, BAT created “a new role on the Management Board in line with the Group’s strategy of pursuing and developing a pipeline of next generation nicotine products to complement its core tobacco business.” Des Naughton was appointed Managing Director – Next-Generation Products, encompassing Nicoventures and CN Creative. (Before that he was BAT Group Operations Director).
Merger with BAT R&D and Nicoventures
In August 2013, BAT brought together CN Creative with the BAT Research and Development department and Nicoventures, the company set up by BAT for the development and commercialisation of regulatory-approved, non-tobacco nicotine products. The merger was accompanied with a reshuffle of the top management. Four directors now hold directorships of three companies: Nicoventures Limited and CN Creative and of the Nicoventures Holding company. A fifth director is the only one not involved in CN Creative.
- Peter Cleverly, a Business Affairs solicitor at BAT
- Douglas Lafferty, after a 12 year career at BAT managing South East Europe, he worked for Imperial Canada since June 2012.
- Desmond Naughton, also holds a directorship at BAT since March 2011, (see above).
- Philippe Zell was appointed director of CN Creative when BAT acquired the company in December 2012 and had been a director of Nicoventures Holding since.
Lord and Newns remain on the CN Creative board, but Burton - a BAT veteran who had only been CN Creative director for eight months since the acquisition – resigned.
- For more on this reshuffle and BAT's strategy, see Nicoventures
CN Creative’s original product is an e-cigarette called Intellicig which is sold on the UK market. The promotion of this e-cigarette is supported by a product website which includes an educational blog and offers consumers the opportunity to buy the e-cigarette online.
It is marketed as “the most pharmaceutically-compliant product of its kind on the market, with an ECOpure nicotine solution that contains only three ingredients, all of which have been approved for pharmaceutical use.” Industry insiders have suggested that BAT’s new e-cigarette Vype (created by CN Creative) is not actually a new product but a rebranded version of theIntellicig. Affirming this suggestion is the fact that the Vype website refers to research done on the “CN Creative's original Intellicig product” to answer questions about the content of the electronic cigarette
- For more on BAT’s e-cigarette, see Vype
Quit Direct: NHS Accreditation Revoked
Until summer 2013, CN Creative also advertised itself as a “NHS accredited provider of comprehensive Stop Smoking Services” through its division ‘Quit Direct’. However, the NHS accreditation for Quit Direct was terminated after CN Creative was taken over by BAT; the link with the tobacco company being a breach of contract. The Quit Direct website has now been taken down, and the Twitter account @QuitDirect is inactive. The CN Creative website has not been updated since the acquisition by BAT in December 2012 (visited in November 2013)
Actistix was introduced in May 2012 as part of the Quit Direct program. It is a nicotine-free e-cigarette “designed to help provide an alternative to smoking tobacco products by replicating the hand-to-mouth action associated with traditional cigarettes.” The Menthol Infusion produces a vapour with a menthol taste, and claims to contain “none of the harmful ingredients found in traditional cigarettes”.  However, the accompanying Facebook site has only managed to get 29 likes in the 18 months of its existence.
Besides manufacturing e-cigarettes, CN Creative (and thus BAT) is in the process of developing an electronic nicotine vaporiser called Nicadex. Unlike an e-cigarette which is considered a consumer product in the UK market, CN Creative and BAT intend to license Nicadex as a medical product through the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). In early 2012, CN Creative announced that they had raised £2 million with the help of Advent Life Sciences to finish the development.
According to CN Creative’s website, Nicadex “is now in final prototype stage, with clinical studies and marketing authorization expected to be completed in 2013..
It is unclear whether BAT, through CN Creative, has continued the development of Quit Direct, Actistix or Nicadex.
According to BloombergBusinessweek, BAT is working on another product called Voke. Presented to investors early September 2013, it promises to deliver cold aerosolized nicotine via a patented breath-operated valve nearly as fast as the six to 12 seconds it takes for a conventional cigarette.
- The device comes in two parts, housed in a case that looks like a cigarette pack. Users dip a cigarette-shaped stick into an aerosol canister to load it up with nicotine and they are ready to puff. Its creator is Alex Hearn, an asthmatic Oxford graduate and former smoker who first started work on it in 2001 and has gone through over 800 prototypes. Voke is currently awaiting a license from U.K. health regulators and would go on sale in Britain next year (2014), pending approval.
- Alex Ralph, Tobacco Giant buys electronic cigarette maker. The Times 20 December 2012, accessed 11 June 2013
- Shane MacGuill, No Smoke and No Fire- BAT Enters The E-Cigarette Fray With Purchase of CN Creative, Euromonitor International Opinion 21 December 2012, accessed 11 June 2013
- CN Creative, Philippe Zell, no date, accessed October 2013
- BAT, Management Board, Corporate Governance, February 2013, accessed October 2013
- McAdvo, BAT Legal Practitioners, no date, accessed October 2013
- LinkedIn, Douglas Lafferty, accessed October 2013
- CNC, CN Creative to unveil the future of smoking cessation at Pharmacy Show, September 2012, accessed October 2013
- Go Vype, Vype Q & A, 31 July 2013, accessed October 2013
- CN Creative, Who we are, Quit Direct website, accessed 11 June 2013. The website has since been disabled, a snapshot is still available through the webarchive, accessed October 2013
- Confirmed by NHS commissioners, email exchange 13 June and 3 October 2013
- SourceWire news, Actistix: Nicotine Free Innovation Offered by Quit Direct, 13 July 2012, accessed November 2013
- CN Creative, CN Creative Raises Series A Funding to Develop First Medically Approved Electronic Inhaler Nicotine Replacement Therapy for Smoking Cessation, press release, 25 January 2012, accessed October 2013
- CN Creative Our brands, accessed 11 June 2013
- Albertina Torsoli and Makiko Kitamura Future of E-Cigarettes in Question on European Crackdown, 14 June 2013, accessed December 2014