Marlboro Maker Targets China's Vaccine Market
Philip Morris trying to move beyond cigarettes
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2012 1:29 AM CDT
Marlboro has a puny 0.3% share of China's tobacco market, while the state-owned tobacco firm has more than 97%.   (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

(Newser) – Marlboro maker Philip Morris only has a tiny sliver of China's gargantuan cigarette market, but it is determined to do business in the country, even if that means moving beyond traditional cigarettes, the Wall Street Journal reports. China's state-owned tobacco firm has a virtual monopoly on cigarettes sales, so Philip Morris is working on producing flu vaccines made from a type of tobacco plant as part of a move to diversify.

The company is also spending huge amounts of money on efforts to develop less harmful cigarettes, a move execs say could be a "game changer" in China. The "healthier" products being developed include a cigarette that generates smoke at lower temperatures, releasing fewer toxins but resembling the smoking experience more than electronic cigarettes do. "To come up with new technology is really the only avenue to get into a place like China," the tobacco giant's chairman told investors earlier this year.