Tobacco manufacturer Altria is introducing a tobacco-free nicotine lozenge called Verve, The Wall Street Journal reports. Verve is a chewable, mint-flavored disc, which provides nicotine that is extracted from tobacco. It does not dissolve, so users must throw it away after use.
The company, which makes Marlboro, is introducing the new product at a time when sales of traditional cigarettes are falling, the article notes. Altria hopes that since Verve does not contain tobacco, it can market the product with milder health-warning labels than those used on cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.
While nicotine is addictive and is linked to heart problems, high blood pressure and diabetes, it has not been shown to cause cancer, according to the newspaper. The product will include a warning label that states nicotine can increase heart rate, blood pressure and aggravate diabetes. It will also say that nicotine “can harm your baby if you are pregnant or nursing” and “cause dizziness, nausea and stomach pain.”
Verve will be sold in Virginia by early June. The company has not decided whether to introduce the product nationally. There will be 16 discs in a package, which will sell for about $3. Verve will be sold to adults only.
Although smokeless tobacco products represent less than 10 percent of tobacco industry sales, they are growing at a rate of 7 percent each year, while cigarette sales have been dropping 4 percent annually.