The Marlboro Man s rugged image could soon go up in smoke.

Altria Group, the nation s No. 1 tobacco company and owner of Marlboro maker Philip Morris USA, on Tuesday became the latest major player to enter the fledgling but potentially lucrative electronic cigarette business.

The Richmond, Va. base company unveiled its new MarkTen e cigarette brand at its annual investors day conference in New York City.

Altria said it will begin distributing MarkTen in August through its Nu Mark subsidiary, which also sells Verve chewable nicotine discs.


MarkTen will initially only be sold in Indiana, though. Altria didn t announce when or if it would roll out the brand nationally.

ROBIN UTRECHT In a surprising move, Malboro is diving into the e cigarettes market.

The (electronic cigarette) category is in its early stages and time will tell how it will evolve, Altria CEO Marty Barrington told investors.

While it s the biggest tobacco company, Altria whose dozens of products include Parliament, Virginia Slims and Skoal was late in jumping into what s become a billion dollar industry. Sales have been growing every year since e cigarettes were introduced in the U.S. around 2007.

RJ Reynolds, the maker of Camel, Kool and Winston, began selling its e cig, Vuse, last year in limited markets.


Last week Reynolds said it would launch a new version of Vuse in Colorado this summer ahead of a national rollout.

Lorillard, the third largest U.S. tobacco company and maker of Newport and Kent, last year bought the company that makes BlueCigs. The brand has been advertised on TV since October in commercials featuring actor Steven Dorff.

DIMAS ARDIAN E cigarettes are marketed as a safer, cleaner alternative to traditional butts because they are smokeless and tobacco free, though they do contain nicotine the ‘smoke’ is actually nicotine vapor a user inhales.

Altria s entry really lends credence to the attractiveness of the category, Vivien Azer, tobacco industry analyst at Citigroup, told the Daily News.

The electronic cigarette market is still relatively small, added Azer, noting that there are more than 200 small, private companies.


It will represent about 1% of the tobacco industry by the end of 2013. However, it s an area that has generated tremendous interest from both investors and tobacco manufacturers.

E cigarettes are marketed as a safer, cleaner alternative to traditional butts because they are smokeless and tobacco free, though they do contain nicotine the smoke is actually nicotine vapor a user inhales.

According to the Altria website, MarkTens are both disposable and rechargeable, and contain nicotine, water, propylene glycol and glycerol.

Each e cig is about $10, and users can buy a replacement cartridge and an accessory kit to recharge the product.

Marlboro maker philip morris to enter e-cigarette business

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(Reuters) Philip Morris International Inc (PM.N) plans next year to enter the electronic cigarette business, a $2 billion plus global market identified by the maker of Marlboro cigarettes as its “greatest growth opportunity”.

Speaking to investors in New York, Philip Morris Chief Executive Andre Calantzopoulos said the company would enter the e cigarette business in the second half of 2014 to tap fast growing demand for a less harmful alternative to cigarettes.

The world’s largest listed tobacco company will launch a new range of products, called “Reduced Risk”, Calantzopoulos said at a conference. The company, which sells to countries outside the United States, will also spend more on research and development.

“2014 will be a key investment year behind our Reduced Risk products, our greatest growth opportunity in the years to come,” he said.

Market consultant Euromonitor estimates the world market for electronic cigarettes was more than $2 billion last year, with the United States accounting for a quarter of that.

The market is growing at breakneck speed. Some analysts predict e smokes could outsell conventional cigarettes within a decade, particularly as Big Tobacco grapples with declining sales due to government regulation and health aware consumers.

Yet e cigarettes battery powered metal tubes that turn nicotine laced liquid into vapor are far from universally accepted as a public health tool.

Regulators are agonizing over whether to restrict them as “gateway” products to nicotine addiction and tobacco smoking, or embrace them as treatments for would be quitters.

A big issue is the lack of long term scientific evidence to support the safety and effectiveness of e cigarettes, prompting critics like the British Medical Association (BMA) to warn of the dangers of their unregulated use.


Celebrity endorsements from Courtney Love, Leonardo DiCaprio and others have provided further inducement to the makers of iconic cigarette brands to invest.

Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT.L), the world’s No. 4 international tobacco company, has announced plans to launch two electronic cigarettes in fiscal 2014.

Lorillard (LO.N), known for its Newport and Kent cigarette brands, paid $135 million to acquire Blu Ecigs in 2012 and last month acquired Britain based e cigarette maker SKYCIG.

Other leading tobacco companies, including British American Tobacco (BATS.L) and Camel cigarette maker Reynolds American (RAI.N), are also placing their bets on e smokes.

Philip Morris said on Wednesday it estimated the retail sales value of the eight largest e cigarette markets worldwide at around $2.5 billion, with nearly half outside the United States and China.

Philip Morris also raised its full year earnings forecast to $5.37 $5.42 per share from $5.35 $5.40, citing a reduced impact from unfavorable exchange rates.

Analysts on average were expecting Philip Morris to earn $5.39 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company’s shares were down 2.5 percent at $89.18 on Wednesday afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Writing by Robin Paxton Editing by Kirti Pandey and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)