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BAT to Sell Voke Tobacco Substitute

Nicoventures, a company formed by British American Tobacco Plc (BATS) to develop substitute nicotine products, said it will sell a new alternative to cigarettes that has received U.K. approval to be prescribed by doctors.

The Voke inhalation device will become the unit’s first licensed product after developer Kind Consumer gained approval from the U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, Nicoventures said today in an e-mailed statement. A further license is required to allow the cigarette-shaped product to be manufactured via an automated process.

“This is better than an e-cigarette for BAT, because it can be prescribed by doctors and there is no debate over its safety,” said Erik Bloomquist, an analyst at Berenberg in London. “We don’t know how many they would sell, but it shows that BAT really does take leadership on lower harm products.”

Tobacco companies globally are developing cigarette alternatives amid government clampdowns and people quitting smoking. BAT has been selling Vype e-cigarettes for more than a year in the U.K., while rival Imperial Tobacco Group Plc (IMT) is acquiring Blu, the world’s biggest e-cigarette maker.

The news is “a major step forward,” according to Des Naughton, managing director of Nicoventures, which was set up by BAT in 2010. Nicoventures didn’t disclose when it would start selling the product.

By Gabi Thesing, Bloomberg.com

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