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    Philip Morris to Test New Products

    Marlboro Menthol and a "safer" cigarette to be introduced within the next 12 months.

    NEW YORK -- Philip Morris USA said Wednesday it plans to test market a new Marlboro Menthol cigarette later this year and hopes to launch a so-called "safer" cigarette next year as it tries to increase its dominant share of the market with new products

    The leading tobacco manufacturer hopes to launch a cigarette using technology that may reduce smokers' exposure to some toxins sometime next year, Michael Szymanczyk, chairman and chief executive officer of Philip Morris USA, told investors at a presentation.

    Szymanczyk said Philip Morris plans also to test market a bolder menthol cigarette under the Marlboro brand in the fourth quarter. Another take on the Marlboro brand, Marlboro Blend No. 27, that was introduced in April is meeting the company's distribution and market share objectives, he said.

    In July, Altria said its profit fell for the third straight quarter, due in part to pressure from cheaper cigarettes. Major U.S. tobacco companies are using promotions to fight less-expensive cigarettes that gained popularity as states raised taxes. Szymanczyk said investments made over the past year, such as increased sales force and new packaging "are continuing to have their intended effect in the marketplace."

    Philip Morris, meanwhile, is working on how it will promote the new "safer" cigarettes, Reuters reported

    "While we would prefer Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance, in the absence of regulation we intend to work with the public health community on how best to communicate about these products to adult smokers," Szymanczyk said.

    Philip Morris has said it would support giving the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products, in part because the company wants the agency to decide if some cigarettes can be promoted as "reduced risk."

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