Tarpon Springs, FL -- (ReleaseWire) -- 07/10/2012 --Philip Morris International, one of the leading tobacco cigarette manufacturers and makers of Marlboro, Virginia Slims and Parliament, announced plans to produce a new line of lower health risk cigarettes by 2017, aimed at combating the budding electronic cigarette industry.
PM CEO Louis Camilleri was quoted as saying that this new type of cigarette would create a “paradigm shift,” and called it a “game changer.”
Mathew Steingraber, founder of Tampa Bay’s White Cloud Electronic Cigarettes, said news of this move comes as a surprise to some in the e cigarette business.
“Electronic cigarettes are already a lower health risk when compared with tobacco cigarettes because they are free of tobacco and don’t contain tar, carbon monoxide or any of the 4,000 carcinogens you find in tobacco cigarettes,” said Steingraber.
Part of this new line of cigarettes is one that would involve a cigarette that heats the tobacco instead of burning, generating an aerosol inhaled by consumers, which is strikingly similar to what e cigarettes already do.
Electronic cigarettes, or “e cigs,” recently made the spotlight when two separate reports by financial titans UBS and Wells Fargo highlighted the industry’s growth rate, speculating that the industry would quadruple its growth by 2014.
According to UBS, the e cigarette industry reached $250 million dollars in annual revenue at the end of 2011, and is forecasted to hit $500 million by the end of 2012. Going by these projections, and if the forecasted quadrupling verifies, the e cig industry will be a billion dollar industry by 2014.
Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik created the modern e cigarette in 2003, with the industry taking shape by 2007.
While the digital smokes are considered a much healthier alternative to tobacco cigarettes, the Food and Drug Administration has yet to offer their seal of approval on any electronic brand.
“We’re still awaiting any kind of endorsement from the FDA,” said Steingraber.
Phillip Morris is not the first tobacco giant to acknowledge the e cigarette industry. Earlier this year Lorillard (makers of Newport and Kent cigarettes) purchased Blu Cigarettes, an e cigarette company based out of North Carolina for $130 million.
Common thinking among the remaining independent e cig companies was that Philip Morris International, also known as Altria group, and Reynolds American would pick up subsequent e cig brands in the wake of Lorillard’s decision.
“The industry has been waiting to see which company will be picked up next,” said Steingraber.