Marlboro maker Philip Morris to enter e-cigarette business
By Siddharth Cavale and Devika Krishna Kumar
(Reuters) - Philip Morris International Inc (PM.N: Quote) 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. Continued...