CHARLOTTE, N.C. — R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., which tried and failed to market a smokeless cigarette in the late 1980s, announced plans for a sweeter-smelling cigarette Monday.
Later this month, the company will introduce a new version of its Salem menthol brand featuring a cigarette paper that reduces stale odors, it said.
"Smokers were asked, other than price, if we can change something about our product, what would they change," RJR spokeswoman DeeDee Whitt said. "They said they would change it to get rid of the lingering stale smell.
"We're addressing a growing social concern that perhaps some people don't like the smell of cigarettes in their clothing, car and hair," she said.
A sample magazine advertisement for the new brand, called Salem Preferred, reads, "I love what you're not wearing." It says Salem Preferred has a "less lingering stale smell" and lists four problem areas where the smokey smell can linger: hair, clothes, home and the car.
RJR said Salem Preferred uses a patented paper technology that changes the smoke odor and gives the cigarettes a smoother taste. While the company won't elaborate on the process, Whitt said it is done by adding a "very common food additive" to the paper.
Salem Preferred will be introduced this month in stores on military bases across the country, Whitt said. She said she did not know when they will be available to the general public.
"We hope it's a great success and we'll roll it out even further," she said.
Six years ago, RJR had a short-lived trial for a smokeless cigarette, known as Premier. Company officials have since said Premier was introduced prematurely and had an unusual taste and odor that bothered some smokers.
RJR has no immediate plans to wrap all its brands in the new paper, Whitt said.
"Just like the cork-tip (filter) and 85-millimeter length are preferred by some of our customers, some of our customers prefer this," she said. Asked if the new menthol brand will also please nonsmokers, she said, "You'll need to check with them."
The Wall Street Journal on Monday quoted Timothy Hensley, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control's Office on Smoking and Health in Atlanta, as saying Salem Preferred could draw attention to what has been an unregulated part of cigarettes: their paper.
Right now, cigarette companies are required to disclose only the ingredient list for the tobacco and any additives to it, not the composition of the paper, he said.
Whitt said RJR anticipated questions about the paper's composition and has provided details to federal regulators.