B&W Targets Oregon

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B&W Targets Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. is reaching out to Oregon smokers facing cigarette price shock following the state's huge tobacco tax hike last week.

Oregon's excise taxes on cigarettes skyrocketed more than 88 percent Nov. 1, an increase of $6 per carton, or 60 cents an individual pack. Brown & Williamson said it is committed to providing smokers an alternative to paying higher prices. The Louisville, Ky.-based tobacco company launched a public relations campaign telling Oregon smokers they could offset the higher tax by selecting its Pall Mall premium cigarette brand, which is being offered at a lower price. The campaign is being supported statewide through direct-mail advertising and point-of-purchase displays at convenience stores, said Bruce Coley, Pall Mall brand manager.

Pall Mall, a popular cigarette brand in the 1960s, has undergone a revival of sorts. In 2001, Brown & Williamson, with approximately 11 percent of the U.S. cigarette market, brought back the venerable brand in a filtered, box format. The biggest change, though, was increasing the brand's quality, which included packing more tobacco in each stick, and developing a competitive pricing strategy.

"We're not running Blue Plate specials every other week for Pall Mall," Coley said. "We're not making people try to figure out which store has the special deals every week. We're not hassling our customers, requiring them to clip coupons. We are simply providing a premium smoke and asking a lower price than the big boys."

Oregon voters approved the increase in cigarette excise taxes on Sept. 17. The tax was 68 cents per pack of 20 cigarettes, or $6.80 in state excise taxes for each carton of 10 packs. As of Nov. 1 the tax increased 60 cents per pack, or $6 more per carton, bringing state taxes to $12.80 per carton.