Trying to produce products that eliminate the process of combustion, which is the most harmful part of smoking a cigarette, and thus manufacturing smokeless cigarettes, or devices that heat instead of burning tobacco, has long pre-occupied the minds and efforts of cigarette manufacturers. For example, in 1988, Reynolds American introduced Premier, a heated-tobacco device, but was forced to withdraw it a few months later after the American Medical Association and other groups urged the FDA to ban it or at least regulate it as a drug. Reynolds, which is the maker, inter alia, of the Winston and Camel brands of cigarettes, tried again with Eclipse, another heated-tobacco device in the mid-1990s. However, this product, although still in limited distribution and the top-selling brand at the company’s cafeteria, has also failed to be established and gain a significant market share. Moreover, the attorney general of Vermont sued the company for violating consumer protection laws and the terms of the $200 billion Master Settlement Agreement, by describing the new device as safer than smoking. A judge ordered Reynolds to pay $8.3 million in 2013 after determining the company’s extensive scientific research was inadequate because it didn’t include long-term human studies.
The new development in the field is that Reynolds has decided to permanently eliminate the Eclipse brand, that has flopped, and introduce a rebranded version of this product under the name Revo. The company’s initial plan is to launch the Revo in Wisconsin in January and continue its marketing elsewhere depending on the reception it gets and the appeal it will have among smokers who don’t like e-cigarettes but would still like an alternative to traditional smoking.
Revo will cost about the same as a premium pack of regular cigarettes and as a move it is considered as Reynolds’ response to a deal that rival Altria has made with Philip Morris earlier this year, whereby the two former partners will share ‘reduced risk’ technology.
Reynolds was not deterred by the apparent slow-down in e-cigarette sales, since it believes that a significant proportion of consumers are still searching for alternatives to traditional cigarettes. Therefore, through the launching of a product that features a special carbon tip that heats instead of burning the tobacco when lighted, thus releasing a tobacco-flavored vapor and not traditional cigarette smoke, the expectation is that smokers will appreciate the fact that Revo won’t leave clothes and hair smelling of cigarette smoke the same way traditional cigarettes do.
Moreover, company officials say that their aim is to position Revo as “a modern classic in the consumer space between a combustible cigarette and a vapor product”. Furthermore, they appear confident that Revo could succeed where Eclipse failed in the past because now consumers will be comparing it with e-cigarettes, not just traditional cigarettes and that smokers on the look-out for an alternative to cigarettes will find the experience of lighting up a Revo as more satisfying and more familiar to an e-cigarette and closer to that offered by traditional cigarettes, thus making this newly-launched product a success.