Japan Tobacco has put its plans to launch cigarette brand Mild Seven in the UK on hold.
Insiders in the tobacco market claim the cigarette was scheduled for launch in the UK this year. But they say it is increasingly unlikely that the launch will go ahead before the end of the year.
A company spokesman says: “No decision has been made on whether we will launch the Mild Seven brand or not. We are still considering the possibility.”
Japan Tobacco is thought to be pre-occupied with its &£5bn purchase of the RJR Nabisco’s tobacco business, RJ Reynolds International, which took place in March.
RJ Reynolds International owns the Camel, Winston and Salem brands. RJ Reynolds retains its core brands in the US.
In a separate deal, Gallaher agreed with RJ Reynolds to purchase its Dickins & Grant and Dorchester brands, and to handle the distribution of the Camel and More cigarette brands in the UK market.
If Japan Tobacco were to proceed with the launch of the Mild Seven brand, it would have to contend with the forthcoming UK ban on tobacco advertising which the Government expects to implement on press and posters from December 10.
Japan Tobacco, which is partly owned by the Japanese government, uses its Mild Seven brand to sponsor the Benetton Formula One motor racing team.