22nd Century Appoints Larry Firestone as Chairman and CEO

Turnaround Veteran to Focus on Unlocking Shareholder Value in Tobacco Assets

BUFFALO, N.Y., Nov. 29, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- 22nd Century Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: XXII) (“22nd Century” or the “Company”), a biotechnology company focused on utilizing advanced plant technologies to improve health and wellness, today announced the appointment of Lawrence (Larry) Firestone as the Company's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

Nora Sullivan, former Chair of the Board, commented, “Larry is a seasoned executive known for his 'hands-on' leadership style emphasizing teamwork, business alignment, continuous improvement, cost control and process optimization. His track record of success with fast growing public companies will serve 22nd Century well as it continues to execute the strategic business plan and work to drive shareholder value.”

Andy Arno, independent director, added, “Larry is a proven leader and business architect who instills an entrepreneurial spirit in the company and culture. Having served as a CEO, CFO and COO in diverse and challenging environments, Larry has established a strong track record of turnaround and positive transformation. He particularly understands the complexities and challenges of companies that are undergoing change, whether due to new product commercialization and growth or the need to restructure.”

“I am excited to lead 22nd Century Group as we refocus our current strategic plans built around innovative plant technologies for tobacco harm reduction and new consumer focused health and wellness products,” said Mr. Firestone. "The team at 22nd Century has created one of the industry's most innovative integrated tobacco platforms, from plant genetics to fully commercialized disruptive consumer products. I am confident we can build upon the success the Company has had to date while developing strategies that can enhance value for shareholders.”

Mr. Firestone brings over 40 years of enterprise, operations, and financial management experience in both public and private companies, including tenures as CEO, CFO and COO across multiple industry sectors. Mr. Firestone most recently served as Chief Financial Officer of Oakland Manager, a privately-held purveyor of cannabis with both retail and wholesale market penetration, and as Chairman of FirePower Technology, a privately held manufacturer of ATX power supplies for the IT and instrumentation markets.

In the public company sector, Mr. Firestone has served as Chief Executive Officer of Eastside Distilling, Inc. (NASDAQ: EAST), Chief Executive Officer of Qualstar Corporation (NASDAQ: QBAK), Chief Financial Officer of Advanced Energy Industries (NASDAQ: AEIS), and Chief Financial Officer of Applied Films Corporation (NASDAQ: AFCO). He has served on numerous boards, including those of Eastside Distilling, Qualstar, CVD Equipment Corporation (NASDAQ: CVD), Amtech Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: ASYS) and HyperSpace Communications, Inc. (NYSE: HYPR). Mr. Firestone received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.

About 22nd Century Group, Inc.
22nd Century Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: XXII) is a leading agricultural biotechnology company focused on tobacco harm reduction, reduced nicotine tobacco and improving health and wellness through plant science. With dozens of patents allowing it to control nicotine biosynthesis in the tobacco plant, the Company has developed proprietary reduced nicotine content (RNC) tobacco plants and cigarettes, which have become the cornerstone of the FDA’s Comprehensive Plan to address the widespread death and disease caused by smoking. The Company received the first and only FDA Modified Risk Tobacco Product (MRTP) authorization for a combustible cigarette in December 2021. 22nd Century uses modern plant breeding technologies, including genetic engineering, gene-editing, and molecular breeding to deliver solutions for the life science and consumer products industries by creating new, proprietary plants with optimized alkaloid and flavonoid profiles as well as improved yields and valuable agronomic traits.

Learn more at xxiicentury.com, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, and on YouTube.

Learn more about VLN® at tryvln.com.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
Except for historical information, all of the statements, expectations, and assumptions contained in this press release are forward-looking statements, including but not limited to our full year business outlook. Forward-looking statements typically contain terms such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “consider,” “continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “explore,” “foresee,” “goal,” “guidance,” “intend,” “likely,” “may,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict,” “preliminary,” “probable,” “project,” “promising,” “seek,” “should,” “will,” “would,” and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding (i) the sale of our hemp/cannabis business, including the GVB assets, (ii) our expectations regarding our future operating expenses and cash flow, (iii) our expectations on the timing and completion of the sale of our hemp/cannabis business, and (iv) our expectations for our business interruption insurance claim. Actual results might differ materially from those explicit or implicit in forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially are set forth in “Risk Factors” in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K filed on March 9, 2023 and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q filed May 9, 2023, August 14, 2023 and November 6, 2023. All information provided in this press release is as of the date hereof, and the Company assumes no obligation to and does not intend to update these forward-looking statements, except as required by law.

Investor Relations & Media Contact
Matt Kreps
Investor Relations
22nd Century Group