Tobacco titans fight over Virginia tax law

It’s Philip Morris vs. Altria over a new wave of smokeless products.
This Nov. 25, 2019 photo shows IQOS heated cigarette store sign in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

An obscure Virginia tax of a product that isn’t even on the market in the United States has sparked a ferocious lobbying battle between two of the world’s largest tobacco companies, one that has the potential to shape the future of a lucrative marketplace.

The House of Delegates this month approved legislation that would raise taxes and require special stamps on heated tobacco products. The first of those products, a device called IQOS marketed by Philip Morris International, is likely to enter the American market sometime this year as the vanguard of a new wave of smokeless products that tobacco giants see as a pivot away from traditional combustable cigarettes.

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