Altria to test market new nicotine product

Altria Group Inc, the largest U.S. tobacco company is intending to test a new product comprising nicotine, but no tobacco.

The maker of well-known Marlboro cigarettes declared that beginning with early June the new smokeless product, Verve, will be sold at 50 to 100 convenience shops in Virginia.

Altria Headquarters

The Altria Group Headquarters and Philip Morris USA Headquarters in Richmond, Virginia

Verve is an alternative, smoke-free product presented by tobacco industry.

The new smokeless product was created due to the fact that many states have banned indoor and public smoking and U.S. cigarette consumption decreases.

Such states as Virginia and North Carolina as well have banned smoking in public places.

David Sylvia, a spokesman for Henrico County-based Altria said that Verve was designed specially for those smokers who hold an interest in smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes. David Sylvia added that their research revealed that approximately one third of adult smoking people give preference to some sort of smokeless alternatives.

Due to the fact that many of those smokers do not accept loose-leaf chewing tobacco, Altria is producing products aimed at wider approval.

Jack Russo, a consumer staples analyst for Edward Jones & Co, said that everybody knows about the bans on cigarette use in the USA and the decrease in cigarettes consumption is obvious.

Also he said that the tobacco company wants to find the next product which will increase their sales volume and which will be developed according to the FDA and health agencies demands.

Not only Altria Group, but also other large tobacco companies, including Richmond-based Swedish Match North America, want to develop a larger market in the USA for snus that has been in great request in Sweden.

Verve contains no tobacco and this is its distinctive feature from other types of alternative tobacco products. Altria Group said the new product is made of a polymer and non-tobacco cellulose fibers with mint flavoring and nicotine.

A package of Verve will include 16 “discs”. Each Verve disc contains less nicotine than pouch tobacco has; it is about 1.5 mg of nicotine, the tobacco company said.

The consumer has two variants of using it: either to chew a disc or hold it in his mouth for 10 to 15 minutes and then throw out it.

The nicotine in Verve is gotten from tobacco. This fact means that Verve should come under the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory authority over tobacco products.

The agency had not done a jurisdictional review on the Verve product, so it can not comment, an FDA spokeswoman said yesterday.

The retail cost of a Verve package is expected to be about $3.

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