Philip Morris USA, the nation’s No. 1 tobacco company, has ended test markets of Marlboro-branded cigarettes that use a high-tech filter. The operating company of Altria Group Inc. said it pulled the plug on Marlboro Ultra Smooth, which uses an activated carbon filter.
The company had stopped making new shipments of Marlboro Ultra Smooth to wholesalers on April 1. They had been tested in Atlanta, Tampa, Fla., and Salt Lake City for more than three years. Certain variations of Marlboro Ultra Lights in Phoenix and North Dakota and Basic Ultra Lights in Washington State were also discontinued after test marketing, the company said.
"We did see lower consumer acceptance of those products in some of the test markets," said spokesman William Phelps. "These are test markets and they’re designed to help us learn a lot of things. In the case of Ultra Smooth, it was designed to help us understand consumer acceptance of those particular products’ taste and flavor." Phelps said the company had made no claims that the products reduced health risks.
Philip Morris is looking to grow its business in other tobacco categories and reduced-risk products, Phelps said. "We remain committed to our overall objective of reducing the harm caused by cigarette smoking," he said. "That work will continue both for conventional lit-end cigarettes as well as what we would describe as noncombustible tobacco products."
Last year, the company began testing its Marlboro-branded moist smokeless tobacco product in Atlanta and recently expanded to counties in the surrounding metropolitan area. It also began testing a tobacco pouch product called Marlboro Snus in Dallas last year, and has expanded the test to Indianapolis.