Tobacco giant Altria Group Inc. is launching its first electronic cigarette, joining the trend toward smokeless products amid a slump in sales of its classic Marlboro brand.
Altria joins competitors such as Lorillard Inc. that have already ventured into electronic cigarettes as their traditional market has been squeezed by health concerns, tighter smoking bans and rising taxes.
Electronic cigarettes -- known as e-cigarettes -- deliver an experience similar to standard cigarettes by heating liquid nicotine in a disposable cartridge and producing a vapor that can be inhaled. Smokers can buy additional cartridges, often at cheaper prices compared with traditional cigarettes.
Altria Chief Executive Marty Barrington said at an investor presentation on Tuesday that the company has devoted a lot of time to studying the e-cigarette market, according to the Associated Press.