An innovative cigarette ‘alternative’ is about to be launched in Britain. British American Tobacco (BAT) will soon unveil it’s first ‘heat, not burn’ product in a mystery European market where the company’s Kent brand of tobacco cigarettes is popular. If the test marketing proves successful, BAT will execute a full launch in Britain shortly thereafter.
This trial is the latest cigarette alternative being offered by BAT. Philip Morris International, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco are also competing for position in the emerging ‘new product’ category to offset the decline of tobacco-related products.
Known as iFuse, this product is similar to an electronic cigarette in that it heats nicotine liquid to create vapour. The vapour then passes through a tobacco section for flavour. BAT senior executives claim it to be safer than a regular cigarette because the process of heating, rather than burning, reduces the amount of harmful chemicals released by the tobacco.
Ecig Sales Up, Tobacco Sales Down
Clearly Big Tobacco is concerned with recent stats that show British adult smoking has dropped from 27.4% in 1999 to 18.8% in 2014. In the USA, those percentages are 24.1% and 17.4% over the same time frame. And of course, BT is very aware that the proportion of former tobacco smokers who are now using e-cigarettes is on the rise, as reports continue to show that vaping is a safer alternative due to the lack of toxin-releasing combustion, not to mention the absence of second-hand smoke.
In fact, in August of this year, sales of e-cigarettes jumped a further 10% in the UK after Public Health England determined they were roughly 95% safer than regular tobacco cigarettes. There’s even a plan afoot to fund free e-cigarettes to those UK residents who can show their determination to give up tobacco alternatives. Pure genius, we say!
Accordng to Kingsley Wheaton, Director of New Technology at BAT, it is expected the iFuse will be regulated as a tobacco product, but the tax will probably be lower commensurate with the lower tobacco level.
We’re on it, folks. We’ll be watching and reporting back to you with any new developments on this front.