West Virginia another Camel SNUS test market..

November 24, 2008 - More comments on R.J. Reynolds Tobacco moist snuff product Camel SNUS.

Reynolds is confident its new product will find a following. It launched Camel Snus in Austin, Texas, and Portland, Ore., in 2006, and has since expanded to test markets nationwide, with customers in nearly every state. Early next year, it's taking Camel Snus national with a marketing blitz that Reynolds spokesman David Howard says will include direct mail, print and Web advertising, and point-of-sale promotions.

While snus has been around, it hasn't been prominent in this country.

West Virginia, where Camel SNUS is being test marketed, has the third-highest adult smoking rate in the U.S. at nearly 27 percent (Kentucky in 2006 had the highest rate of 28.6 percent and high rates of five of tobacco-related cancers: lung, larynx, kidney, esophageal and cervical) and the highest rate of "spit" or chewing tobacco use at 16 percent.

Comments from an 18-year-old student, Ethan Flint at West Virginia University (WVU)- Camel Snus is worth a try may take some work. "I think I'd rather throw up in my mouth," says Flint, emerging from a convenience store with a pack of Winstons and a coupon for free Camel Snus. "I'd rather not swallow anything like that." Flint suspects that teenage smoker may use Camel SNUS. "It looks fun, actually," he said of the bright blue camel logo. "As a little kid, I'd probably buy this just because it looks cool - Camel SNUS tagline, "Pleasure for wherever." But I know better than that, and I'd rather choke to death."

Danny Wolfe, a 38-year-old computer draftsman, gave up regular spit tobacco and has been using Copenhagen tobacco pouches for several years. He spits out the juice; it gives him heartburn. "It's the same product, just packaged differently. It doesn't get in your teeth. It doesn't have the mess," says Wolfe, who was sick of smoking outside his Morgantown office. "You're not quitting anything. You're replacing."

Snus is also popular with hunters, who try to avoid scent detection by their prey, and with coal miners, who work in underground mines where the smallest spark can trigger an explosion. I find that more rednecks use it," Wolfe says. "I won't lie to you about that."

Comments from David Howard (Howardd1@RJRT.com), the Reynolds spokesman: "There's no secondhand smoke. There's no spitting. We see it as a win-win. It's also in line with company strategy. We're moving toward becoming a total tobacco company."

WVU researcher Cindy Tworek worries children could suck on the pouches in front of oblivious parents or teachers because its so easy to conceal. Tworek has surveyed more than 600 college students in the Morgantown test market and will release her conclusions next year on whether Reynolds' marketing efforts work. (Are adults snoozing while kids are "snusing?..; Experience of a High School Student Using Camel SNUS - from the Kansas City Star, 10/31/2007..)

Howard denies suggestions that Reynolds targets underage users. He says it's selling best among adult male smokers and moist snuff users. "It didn't quite get as much consideration among female adult smokers just because it's different," he concedes. "They're a little more hesitant. But obviously we think that with continued communication with all adult smokers, they'll come to try it."

Reynolds is even developing dissolvable tobacco strips, orbs and sticks that it will start test-marketing early next year in Portland, Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio. (STOP - the Proliferation of Flavored Tobacco Products..

Reference: New tobacco product alarms some health officials by Vicki Smith, The Huffington Post, 11/23/2008.

Related West Virginia - Camel Snus news briefs: One can Camel SNUS addicted to nicotine for life.. and RJR's Camel SNUS twice nicotine content...