21 June 2021
Jennifer Maloney. Source: The Wall Street Journal
Tobacco firm Altria tells a judge its e-cigarette offering was lousy. Chalk it up to antitrust defense.
Tobacco giant Altria Group Inc. is on trial, accused of breaking antitrust laws by abandoning its e-cigarette business at the request of rival Juul Labs Inc. The Marlboro maker’s defense: Our e-cigarettes were lousy.
To make its case, Altria has asked its own executives to disclose, in detail, their litany of failures.
On the witness stand, current and former Altria executives have recounted how the company threw hundreds of millions of dollars at developing a vaping product, yet failed to come up with anything smokers liked.
According to the executives’ testimonies: Altria’s e-cigarettes leaked. They generated high formaldehyde levels. They lacked the nicotine kick smokers were looking for.
The bad news was so frequent, according to trial testimony this month, that a scientist who updated executives on the company’s e-cigarette products earned the nickname “Dr. Doom.”