Friday, February 19, 2010

Marlboro taking Snus Nationwide

As we have discussed extensively on the blog here- new and emerging products are rapidly coming onto the market, both in test cities and nationwide. Good old Altria, owners of Phillip Morris (PMI) and makers of Marlboro brand (the cigarette of choice for more smokers than any other brand) are at it again. "Seeking future growth," Big Tobacco claims is the reason that Marlboro Snus is going nationwide. By the end of March every convenient store and gas station will be stocked full of these lethal products.

The truth is PMI knows that they can't stay in the cigarette market and maintain record margins of profits despite a major recession. They also know that cigarettes are not viewed as socially acceptable as they once were, thanks in large part to local, state, and national network of tobacco control activists. With their mainstay product falling from popularity Big Tobacco moves in for another kill- smokeless. Discreet little pouches with fun names like Snus and kid-friendly flavors like Frost. Let's be clear spit tobacco is no better for you than smoking. It is addictive, makes your teeth fall out and causes cancer. Maybe you won't die from lung cancer but losing half you jaw isn't too sexy either.
At any rate, PMI proves once again we must remain vigilant in fighting Big Tobacco. We must also watch out for Big Tobacco's dirty tricks. Many states base the tax on Snus on weight like moist snuff, aka weight-based tax. We in Wisconsin saw the trend for lighter products and have switched to a percentage of price model of taxation on other tobacco products. This ensures that products on taxed more similarly to cigarettes and less like the virtually weightless system Big Tobacco prefers.

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