Independent tobacconist AE Lloyd is planning to launch a brand of cigarettes that will be positioned as a “natural” alternative to additive-filled rivals, in a move that has provoked outrage among anti-tobacco campaigners.
The launch comes at a time when the industry has come under attack for lacing its cigarettes with flavourings such as chocolate, cherry and vanilla.
AE Lloyd says its cigarettes will be advertised as additive-free. The word “natural” is being considered as part of the brand name, which has yet to be decided.
A spokeswoman for anti-smoking group ASH says: “It is worrying that people could be lured into thinking this product is any healthier or more ethical. The product is inherently lethal, whatever you do or don’t put in it.”
AE Lloyd president Peter Lloyd says the company will tread carefully to avoid breaking laws against marketing tobacco.
“We have to be careful what we say and make sure it is 110 per cent correct,” he says. “But whether we use ‘additive-free’ or ‘natural’ tobacco there will be ways of communicating the selling point.”
Lloyd believes there is untapped demand for a mainstream, additive-free cigarette. He says the cigarette will be better for smokers and the company will try to “tap into the more health-conscious side of the brand”.
AE Lloyd’s cigarette portfolio includes the “Shag” brand, which was launched last year.