India’s largest tobacco company, Philip Morris India, has agreed to sell a range of nicotine salts to consumers, an industry source said on Friday.
Indian cigarette makers had been looking to buy the premium tobacco brand Nicorette and other brands in a bid to attract more smokers to their industry, but it was not possible because of a shortage of supply.
The deal is expected to be finalised in coming days, and will include a range that is expected be marketed at about Rs2,500 ($26) per pack.
A number of other tobacco companies are also expected to sign on to the deal, including Philip Morris China, which owns Chinese brands such as Wu Yun, which is owned by the family of the late Chinese dictator Mao Zedong.
“We’re delighted to be able to take Nicoretts brand and launch it in India,” Philip Morris Chief Executive Officer, David Bier said in a statement.
“This will enable us to sell products that our customers demand from us and to increase our international reach.
Nicorettes is a hugely popular brand in the global market and is a great opportunity for us to bring our premium brands to India.”
The company had previously indicated it was exploring options to sell nicotine salts online, but Philip Morris said it did not intend to do so.
“Nicorette is a brand we’re passionate about, and we will continue to invest in it and develop our global network of brands to provide our customers with quality products that they are able to trust,” Philip Morris India CEO, Ashish Bhatt, said in the statement.
The sale comes a week after Philip Morris announced it would open its first distribution centre in Mumbai, the second in India in three months.
The move comes after the company also signed a deal with the state of Gujarat to launch the first-ever e-cigarette retail store, a first for the Indian market.
“India has been a market that has been growing at a remarkable pace, with an annual growth rate of around 15 per cent, so we’re delighted that we will be able add to that momentum with our expansion,” Bhatt said.
Nicoretts has also announced plans to start selling nicotine patches, a new category of cigarettes.