As cigarette volumes continue to decline, Altria Group Inc. continues its move toward a noncombustible future.
The Richmond, Va.-based tobacco leader's path forward comes as the industry overall places a stronger focus on harm reduction, with other tobacco products like oral nicotine pouches, vapor products and heat-not-burn tobacco products in the spotlight.
"We believe the foundation for tobacco harm reduction in the U.S. is firmly set. Adult tobacco consumers are increasingly seeking alternatives to combustible products, and we have a federal regulatory framework that has established pathways to bring new tobacco products to market and communicate about their relative risks," said Altria Group chairman and CEO Howard Willard.
"We recognize the importance of this opportunity and over the next 10 years, our vision is to responsibly lead the transition of adult smokers to a noncombustible future," he added.
According to the chief executive, Altria will implement several strategies to make that vision a reality. This includes:
Leading the industry in operating responsibly and preventing underage use of adult products;
Developing and expanding its portfolio of noncombustible products authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and actively converting adult smokers to them;
Maximizing the profitability of its combustible products, while appropriately balancing investments in its Marlboro brand and funding the growth of its noncombustible portfolio; and
Seizing leadership in the external environment through communications, engagement, science-based policy and regulatory solutions.
Willard's comments came during Altria's presentation at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference, held in Boca Raton on Feb. 19.
"We believe adult smokers are looking for alternatives to cigarettes beyond just the e-vapor category. While many adult smokers have used e-vapor products to transition away from cigarettes, third-party research indicates that approximately 40 percent of current U.S. adult smokers have tried, but ultimately rejected e-vapor products," Willard noted.
"When you combine this data with the current challenges in the e-vapor market, we believe this is the opportune time to expand IQOS and on!," he explained. "We believe that these products could be satisfying alternatives for adult smokers who have rejected e-vapor, and we're excited about our commercialization plans for these brands."
Altria's wholly owned subsidiaries include Philip Morris USA Inc., U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. LLC, John Middleton Co., Sherman Group Holdings LLC and its subsidiaries, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Ltd. and Philip Morris Capital Corp.
Altria also owns an 80% interest in Helix Innovations LLC, and holds equity investments in Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV, JUUL Labs Inc., and Cronos Group Inc.