Marlboro maker Altria buys stake in Juul e-cigarettes for $12.8 billion
Washington DC: US tobacco giant Altria, maker of major brands such as Marlboro and Chesterfield, announced Thursday that it will buy a 35 percent stake in popular e-cigarette maker Juul for 12.8 billion.
The investment gives Juul a valuation of 38 billion — more than twice its current value of 16 billion. "We are taking significant action to prepare for a future where adult smokers overwhelmingly choose non-combustible products over cigarettes," said Altria CEO Howard Willard.
"We have long said that providing adult smokers with superior, satisfying products with the potential to reduce harm is the best way to achieve tobacco harm reduction. Through Juul, we are making the biggest investment in our history toward that goal." E-cigarettes expose users to significantly lower levels of potentially toxic substances, except for nicotine, the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said this year. Converting conventional cigarette smokers to vaping would therefore reduce the number of cancer cases.
Juul CEO Kevin Burns said the Altria investment had offered his company "a truly historic opportunity to improve the lives of the world's one billion adult cigarette smokers." But Juul, founded in 2015, has nevertheless found itself at the center of controversy over the appeal of its products to young people.