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December, 2008

New Year, New Products

There are two main issues facing cigarette manufacturers of the world, one quite obvious, and one a bit more vague. Government regulation is, of course, the elephant in the room that feels the need to spread its blubber around. Every day, a national or local government (and coming soon: international bodies) places restrictions on a voluntary act committed by adults, whether it be text warnings replaced by depictions of mutilated bodies or the ever-growing encroachment of smoking bans in both public and even private spaces. Commentator Tucker Carlson described tobacco as “touching some deep part of me emotionally.” And it does. Tobacco has been used by humans for centuries, and has flourished nearly everywhere it has been introduced, in almost every form. There is just something about it. Of course, it comes with certain health concerns that adult consumers must weigh for themselves. Perhaps if we could towards a safer method of using tobacco, this could overcome one of the main issues facing the industry.

Which leads us to problem number two: In much of the western world, people aren’t smoking cigarettes as much. The lowly cigarette has been beat down. But that doesn’t change the product. But perhaps, if a possibly safer, different product arose, this trend could be reversed. Many companies (outside of the EU) are attempting snus. And, in the US, companies like Reynolds are creating tobacco products that dissolve in the users mouth or can be smokeless and spitless and utilized anywhere (see “R.J. Reynolds on the Frontier of Tobacco Products” page 38). Meanwhile Philip Morris recently purchased UST, maker of smokeless products Skoal and Copenhagen in a bid to get beyond tobacco, and last year announced the building a multi-million dollar tobacco research facility. Other tobacco experiments are being carried out with other companies as well. It will be interesting to see how these various test-launches pan-out in various markets around the world.

- E. D.

Tobacco International - December, 2008

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