Tobacco giants Philip Morris and Altria end merger talks

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The US tobacco giants Philip Morris and Altria are calling off merger talks.

The makers of Marlboro cigarettes said last month that they were in discussions to become a single company, more than a decade after splitting into two as lawsuits mounted.

Altria has exclusively sold Marlboro cigarettes and other tobacco brands in the US, while Philip Morris has handled international sales.

Philip Morris International Inc chief executive Andre Calantzopoulos said on Wednesday that the companies will instead focus on launching IQOS – a heat-not-burn cigarette alternative made by Philip Morris – in the US.

Meanwhile, e-cigarette company Juul’s chief executive is stepping down with safety concerns over vaping intensifying.

Altria Group Inc announced that KC Crosthwaite will become Juul’s new chief executive, replacing Kevin Burns.

Mr Crosthwaite served as Altria’s chief growth officer.

Mr Crosthwaite said in a prepared statement that Juul has long focused on providing adult smokers with alternatives, but recognised that there is currently “unacceptable levels of youth usage and eroding public confidence in our industry”.

“We must strive to work with regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders, and earn the trust of the societies in which we operate. That includes inviting an open dialogue, listening to others and being responsive to their concerns,” he said.

Altria took a 35% stake in Juul in December at a cost of 13 billion US dollars (£10.5bn).

Juul Labs also announced it will no longer promote its e-cigarettes in print, digital and TV advertisements in the US.

It also pledged not to lobby against a sweeping ban on vaping flavours proposed by the Trump administration earlier this month.

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