Altria and Philip Morris International are expanding their research partnership to develop e-cigarette products.
Altria Group Inc. would bring the products to market in the U.S., while Philip Morris would handle markets outside the U.S., where it sells traditional tobacco products.
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The deal provides for exclusive technology cross licenses, technical information sharing and cooperation on scientific assessment, regulatory engagement and approval related to e-vapor products.
Tobacco companies are fighting for a share of the growing market for e-cigarettes, which some see as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes.
Many of the world's 1 billion smokers want to quit or try other tobacco alternatives, like e-cigarettes. In the U.S., nearly half of the nation's 42 million adult smokers try to quit each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Liquid nicotine is primarily used to refill e-cigarettes, a fast-growing market encompassing hundreds of products and an estimated $2.1 billion in sales.
Philip Morris International Inc., a seller of Marlboro and other cigarette brands, also reported Thursday that its second-quarter results beat analysts' expectations.