Gallaher is understood to be plotting a variant launch of its Benson & Hedges (B&H) cigarette brand.
B&H Black, which features a striking new pack design, is likely to sit alongside B&H Gold and B&H Silver variants rather than replace them. No further details are known about the positioning of the Black variant relative to other versions.
Nor is it known when the Black variant, already available in certain Eastern European markets, will be rolled out in the UK. Tobacco manufacturer Gallaher is thought to believe the packaging will stand out against rival brands.
The tobacco giant has applied for two trademarks for B&H Black. The packaging submitted alongside the registration is black, features the B&H logo and the word "black" in either gold or silver.
The plan follows a number of initiatives by Gallaher following the 2003 ban on tobacco advertising. It launched Silver in 2003 as a cheaper, less harsh variant of the gold masterbrand and is one of the fastest growing cigarette brands in the UK.
Last year Gallaher launched new packaging for Silver, the B&H Silver Slide packet, which holds 20 cigarettes and is opened via a side panel (MW June 8, 2006). It also features blank "message" panels on the inside slide and a revamped silver flash across the packagaing.
Another Gallaher initiative saw the introduction of 14-cigarette packs for its B&H and Camel brands, based on the idea that the average smoker gets through 14 sticks a day. The company has also launched line extensions such as Silk Cut Graphite and Camel Natural Flavour.
The sale of cigarettes in the UK, already in decline with 49 billion in 2006 against 51 billion in 2005, is expected to fall further with smoking bans in place in Scotland and Wales and to be enforced in England from July this year.