The nation’s largest tobacco company begins test sales of its new product in Virginia.
Altria Group Inc. is set to open s totally new category of tobacco-free nicotine products. The tobacco giant is intended to introduce an undissolving, disc-shaped product named Verve, its brand new attempt to develop a successful smokeless tobacco product.
In contrast to other alternative tobacco products, marketed by Altria, Swedish Match, Reynolds American and other tobacco giants, Verve doesn’t contain tobacco, but provides pure nicotine extract derived from tobacco and mixed with menthol flavoring, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
Verve, resembling cough lozenges, delivers nicotine during about 15 minutes when a user chews or sucks it. It should not be spitted in order to avoid swallowing, and need to be discarded after usage as it does not dissolve.
The newest product will come in a pack of 16 discs, with each disc containing nearly 1.5mg of nicotine, lower than most fellow smokeless tobacco products contain.
Altria plans to start sales of Verve in almost 100 convenience stores across Virginia from June, yet, the company has not decided over the nationwide launch of the product.
A pack of 16 Verve discs will be selling for around $3, whereas a pack of nation’s best-selling Marlboro cigarettes is selling for about $4.50. The new product will be sold only to adult consumers.
Altria Group believes the usage of nicotine extract will allow it to market its new product with less grievous health warnings in comparison to those placed on cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Government-required warnings on majority of smokeless tobacco products, including chewable tobacco, snuff and snus, stress the health risks, like oral tumors, gum diseases and other health complications, saying that these products are not “a safe alternative to cigarettes.”
Smoke-free tobacco products account for less than 10% of tobacco industry, however they make up a vital battleground for the tobacco groups, since this category is adding nearly 7% each year, whereas domestic cigarette volume has been dropping around 4% annually in the United States.
Altria Group, the leading tobacco company across the nation according to sales, holds about 55% of the smokeless tobacco market, with its Scoal and Copenhagen snuff brands, while its major rival, Reynolds American, has 30% share of the smokeless market with its flagship Grizzly brand.
Recently, major tobacco groups have concentrated marketing efforts on alternative smoke-free products, like dissolvable tobacco strips and sticks and snus, spit-free tobacco pouches.
Altria confirmed it had already contacted the U.S. Food & Drug Administration regarding their new product. The FDA admitted it has already received a report from Altria, but refused to comment on the possible regulation of this product.
Altria will place a health warning label on the Verve packs, according to the company, notifying users that nicotine might increase blood pressure and heart rate, and cause other health complications.