After spending more than 4 1/2 years in five test markets, including Charlotte, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co (Camel cigarettes manufacturer). has struggled to gain consumer traction for its trio of dissolvable tobacco products.
It has struggled to the extent that it is limiting future marketing of the products: a pellet (Camel Orbs), a twisted stick the size of a toothpick (Camel Sticks) and a film strip for the tongue (Camel Strips).
The goal has been making its tobacco products more accessible within a society that’s clamping down on smoking. Reynolds began testing the dissolvable products in early 2009.
By comparison, Reynolds needed just 2½ years, from April 2006 to October 2008, to take its Camel Snus products from test markets to national distribution.
Reynolds spokesman Richard Smith said the products remain in limited distribution in Charlotte and Denver at point-of-sale sites. They also are marketed through its age-verified website for consumers.
“At this time there are no plans for any marketing beyond these channels,” Smith said. “We’ve found in our conversations with adult tobacco consumers that while there’s strong interest in the category, a different product form may present a better option over the long term.
“Though for now, Camel Sticks, Strips and Orbs will remain available while we continue to gather learnings.”
The setback is noteworthy because Reynolds has carved out an important and profitable niche as the industry’s leading manufacturer of innovative smokeless products.
The dissolvable products are made of finely milled tobacco and come in flavor styles of fresh and mellow. The products last from two to three minutes for the strips, 10 to 15 minutes for the orbs and 20 to 30 minutes for the sticks. They carry the same health warnings as other oral smokeless products.