RICHMOND, Va. Philip Morris USA, an Altria Group Inc. company and the No. 1 tobacco company in the United States, has closed the doors on its Marlboro Ultra Smooth cigarettes operation. Phillip Morris said that the decision came because it’s facing hurdles in growing its tobacco business, according to published reports.
The Ultra Smooth cigarettes were being tested in Atlanta, Tampa, Fla., and Salt Lake City, but Philip Morris stopped making them April 1, the company said. It also pulled the plug on its Marlboro Ultra Lights, sold in the Phoenix area and North Dakota, and its Basic Ultra Lights cigarettes, sold in Washington state.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the sales volume for Philip Morris dropped 4.6 percent last year, a steeper decline than the overall U.S. cigarette market, which dropped about 4 percent. Furthermore, Philip Morris’ underlying sales volume dropped 3.6 percent.
The company said that it expects overall cigarette sales to drop by an annual rate of about 2.5 percent to 3 percent in the next several years.
Philip Morris said that it is looking into developing tobacco products that are less threatening to consumers’ health. Ironically, the company had previously released statements that Marlboro Ultra Smooth cigarettes had built-in activated carbon filters, designed to release nicotine, but prohibit exposure to some carcinogens found in regular cigarettes.