Big Tobacco’s E-Cigarette Push Gets a Reality Check

Big Tobacco is finally making its big push into electronic cigarettes (Grenco Science Snoop Dogg SLIM vaporizer pen). Altria Group Inc. and Reynolds American Inc. together have captured about a quarter of convenience-store sales just weeks into national rollouts of the battery-powered devices.

In a surprising development, though, e-cigarette sales are falling at these traditional retail outlets, reversing three years of rapid-fire growth. That raises questions whether Altria and Reynolds, which already dominate the U.S. tobacco market with a combined 75% market share, are fishing in the right pond with the proper bait. It is unclear at this point if it also calls into question the future of the new “vaping” craze.

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About seven in 10 regular cigarettes are sold in convenience stores. That’s where Altria, maker of top-selling Marlboro, is distributing its MarkTen e-cigarette (Grenco Science gumball 3000 microg vaporizer pen), and Reynolds, maker of Camel, is launching its electronic Vuse. That is also where No. 3 tobacco player Lorillard Inc. is already positioned with the top-selling e-cigarette, Blu. They’re all hoping to capture the small but growing number of smokers who are switching to the gadgets, which heat nicotine-laced liquid into vapor and are believed less toxic than cigarettes.

But e-cigarette (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YGMJIVO474) sales are increasingly shifting to thousands of recently opened “vape shops” where consumers can buy refillable “vaporizers” that can pack more than five times the liquid and battery power of the smaller, sealed “cigalike” versions that Altria and Reynolds are just now rolling out. They also allow consumers to buy hundreds of flavored liquids in bulk and to mix and match hardware from dozens of manufacturers offering their products at lower prices.

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