Altria to Expand Marlboro Snus Test

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Altria to Expand Marlboro Snus Test

NEW YORK -- For the first time since early 2009, Altria Group's Philip Morris USA (PM USA) will expand the trial of its Marlboro Snus smokeless, spitless tobacco product to new markets this month.

Marlboro Snus will soon be available in select markets in Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California and Colorado, Altria spokesman Bill Phelps told CSNews Online late last week. This expansion plan was first hinted at by Michael E. Szymanczyk, chairman and chief executive of Altria Group, during the Barclays Capital Back-to-School Consumer Conference in September, where he revealed the product would enter new markets in the fall.

Snus has been in test market sine 2007, said Phelps, and the company has learned, received feedback and made some changes to the product as a result. New Marlboro Snus includes smaller packaging that contains six pouches, down from 12 pouches, along with a larger pouch size, according to Phelps.

The Marlboro Snus test was previously expanded at the beginning of this year when it entered Phoenix. It also expanded in March 2008 to cover Indianapolis, where the company's initial snus product -- Taboka -- was tested in 2007, and later discontinued when the Marlboro-branded product entered the market.

Marlboro Snus -- a pouch product designed for adult smokers who are interested in smokeless products as an alternative to cigarettes -- is also currently in test market in Dallas.

Meanwhile, new Copenhagen Wintergreen moist smokeless tobacco, by Altria's U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. (USSTC), hit shelves nationwide last week, Phelps told CSNews Online. The 200-year-old brand is banking this new product on the popularity of the wintergreen flavor, which is largest in the MST segment, at 40 percent, he noted.

And Altria's John Middleton will roll out a no-tip cigarillo style of its Black & Mild cigar in the Southeast U.S. this month.

Another new product hits shelves early this month -- L&M Bold -- which is a full-flavor menthol cigarette. This new product was also mentioned by Szymanczyk at the Barclays conference.

Also in Altria's cigarette business, there are plans for two line extensions under the Marlboro Special Blend brand that will be available nationwide early next year, Phelps said. Two new flavors will be "based on the classic Marlboro flavor," he added.

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