Japan Tobacco, Altria Partner to Bring Heated Tobacco Sticks to U.S.

Companies hope to submit PMTAs for Ploom in 1st half of 2025
JT and Altria logos
JT and Altria/Image

TOKYO and RICHMOND, Va. — Japan Tobacco and Altria Group subsidiaries are forming a joint venture to bring a heated tobacco sticks to the United States. The product will be made of Ploom-branded devices and Marlboro-branded consumables, it said.

Japan Tobacco subsidiary JTI and Altria Group’s subsidiary Philip Morris USA will market and commercialize Ploom, which likely won’t be available in the U.S. until 2025 or later.

The two groups also signed a long-term, non-binding global memorandum of understanding to explore commercial opportunities for a wide range of potentially reduced-risk products (RRP).

“As part of our strategic focus on [heated tobacco sticks], we're very enthusiastic to launch our Ploom brand in the U.S., the world's largest RRP market in value, through our partnership with the market leader, Altria,” said Masamichi Terabatake, JT Group CEO and president of the tobacco business. “We also look forward to entering into a long-term strategic collaboration with Altria to further explore global commercial opportunities in the RRP category.”

Both companies said they believe the relationship will help accelerate harm reduction for adult smokers across the globe.

“We believe moving beyond smoking in the U.S. requires multiple [U.S. Food and Drug Administration]-authorized products within each smoke-free category to appeal to a diverse range of adult smokers,” Altria’s CEO Billy Gifford said. “We believe that our joint venture and pipeline of heated tobacco products position us well to increase adoption of smoke-free products.”

The companies will combine their scientific and regulatory expertise to jointly prepare FDA filings, including a premarket tobacco product application (PMTA) for the latest version of Ploom products. The parties expect to submit PMTAs in the first half of 2025, Altria said.

Altria recently agreed to end its deal with Philip Morris International (PMI) to sell heat-not-burn system IQOS in the United States, effective April 30, 2024.

Horizon Innovations Created

The joint venture between JTI and PM USA establishes Horizon Innovations as the exclusive vehicle responsible for the U.S. commercialization of current and future heated tobacco stick products owned by either party. JTI will have a 25% economic interest in Horizon and PM USA will have a 75% economic interest. PM USA is responsible for making an initial $150 million in capital contributions to Horizon.

Altria said the audience for the product will include millions of U.S. adult smokers who tried, but ultimately rejected, e-vapor products. JTI already sells Ploom products in four countries. Its latest version, Ploom X, was released in Japan last year.   

"By forming this [joint venture], we are bringing together the marketing, innovation, [research and development] and science capabilities that JTI has developed over the years, with Altria's science, U.S. regulatory experience and vast infrastructure, to create a very strong proposition for the U.S. adult smoker," said Eddy Pirard, CEO of Japan Tobacco International.

Japan Tobacco Inc., Tokyo, is an international tobacco company selling its products in more than 130 countries and regions. It manufactures brands including Winston, Camel, Mevius and LD.

Altria, Richmond, Va., owns operating companies including Philip Morris USA, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., John Middleton and Helix Innovations that make a variety of tobacco and nicotine products.

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