LAKEVILLE, Minn. —Over the past several weeks, NATO has been proud to participate in the launch a variety of efforts designed to improve the ability of retail businesses to effectively communicate with one another and local governments across the country. We’re excited to add social media—Facebook and Twitter—to that mix of tools.
First, we announced our partnership with more than 60 national and state trade associations as part of the National Response Network (NRN). We are on pace to soon achieve our goal of having retail association participation from all 50 states. Monitoring and responding to local legislation is difficult if not impossible to do on one’s own. But, by combining our efforts and voices through NRN, we are already learning that the value of this coalition is greater than the sum of its parts.
Next, we announced the launch of the related National Local Advocacy Alliance (NLAA) website that equips NRN coalition members with a suite of important information and services designed to educate, inform and constructively engage retail businesses on pending local legislation. On proposals that can affect the bottom lines of retailers, NLAA both educates about the substance of laws and proposals and activates outreach to local officials. Already, we’re seeing retailers access the growing NLAA database—and provide important information to local officials that can inform them about key issues that impact our businesses.
And finally, we are proud to announce that NLAA has expanded to social media to add tools designed to foster communication between our members and, as important, with the larger public policy universe. If you are a retail business owner or manager, an employee or maybe just an adult consumer with interest in legislation and regulation related to tobacco, nicotine or vapor issues, we strongly encourage you to “like” the NLAA Facebook page and “follow” the NLAA Twitter account. Both are important tools necessary to communicate in today’s modern world. For those of you unable to use the hyperlinks above, you can access the Facebook account here at https://www.facebook.com/nationallocaladvocacyalliance/ and the Twitter account here at https://twitter.com/nlaalliance.
The Facebook and Twitter social media platforms will allow NLAA to do two important things. First, it allows NLAA to create a substantive and meaningful organizational brand. When vested interests learn of a new organization, many of them will research NLAA. Through the use of both social media platforms, we will work to let public officials, the media and the public know that we are a coalition of responsible retailers selling legal products to age-verified adults. Second, we will also constructively and responsibly share important policy and related information through those platforms. It is of critical importance not only that our retail members engage with local officials to share our perspectives but also that our messaging be consistent and designed to have maximum effect.
Monitoring local legislation across the 50 states is no easy task. Providing a mechanism by which organizations and their members can easily and effectively communicate with decision makers, policy leaders, the media and the public presents even more of a challenge. The new NLAA social media platforms help present our NLAA brand to the wider world. It is only through member engagement that the NLAA Facebook page and NLAA Twitter account will achieve our long-term goals. Organic growth and influence will grow only to the extent that coalition members engage.
So please, check out both platforms and liberally “like,” “follow,” “share” and “retweet” NLAA content today.
RICHMOND, Va.—Close talks with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a minority stake in upstart Juul e-cigarettes and a public step into the marijuana business all happened in a matter of weeks at the tail end of 2018 and into the new year for one of the country’s largest producers of tobacco products, Altria Group Inc.
Faced with the steady decline of cigarette volume across the United States in recent years, tobacco companies like Richmond, Va.-based maker of the popular Marlboro brand of cigarettes have had to scramble to remake their destinies. But none has moved quicker in the past few weeks than Altria.
Here’s a summary of their latest moves …
Following warning letters sent by the FDA last fall to several manufacturers of electronic cigarettes and vaping devices, Altria announced plans to remove its MarkTen Elite and Apex by MarkTen pod-based vaping products until they “receive a market order from the FDA or the youth issue is otherwise addressed,” the company said in a press release.
The move is the first in what could be many steps by manufacturers as the FDA investigates marketing practices for such devices. The FDA held meetings with top manufacturers late last year and announced its intentions to call for more meetings in 2019.
Announced alongside its quarterly earnings report on Oct. 25, Altria related its actions back to the FDA’s September announcement of steps it is taking to address the problem of minors using vaping products.
On Dec. 7, Altria announcement it would discontinue the production and distribution of all its MarkTen and Green Smoke e-vapor products, as well as Verve oral nicotine-containing products. The company said its decision was based on current and expected financial performance of these products, coupled with regulatory restrictions that burden Altria’s ability to quickly improve these products. The company said it will refocus its resources on “more compelling” reduced-risk tobacco-product opportunities.
Altria signed and closed on a $12.8 billion investment in Juul Labs Inc., a San Francisco-based maker of electronic cigarettes and e-vapor products. Announced in December, the investment represents a 35% economic interest in Juul, valuing the company at $38 billion. Altria will participate in the e-vapor category only through Juul, it said.
Altria’s stated strategic rationale for the investment in Juul is that it:
- Provides a significant stake in the largest and fastest growing e-vapor company with a highly talented management team, successful in-market products and strong innovation pipeline.
- Offers exposure to strong revenue and volume growth opportunity with attractive unit economics and to significant international growth plans and global e-vapor profit pool.
- Better positions Altria with adult smokers interested in alternatives while continuing to compete vigorously in all other tobacco product markets.
Juul will remain fully independent, the companies said, but it will have access to Altria’s infrastructure and services.
In December, Altria also made a significant move in the marijuana business, entering an agreement to acquire newly issued shares in Cronos Group Inc., a Toronto-based cannabinoid company. The transaction represents a 45% equity stake in Cronos Group for an aggregate investment of approximately $1.8 billion.
Regarding its heat-not-burn product, iQOS, Altria officials said they could move the devices to market as quickly as three to four months after the FDA approves the tobacco company’s new-product application.
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