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Imperial Takes on Juul as Big Tobacco Faces Upstart Rival

  • Company is launching nicotine salt pods in U.S. and U.K.
  • Juul’s rapid growth has sparked selloff of tobacco stocks
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Imperial Brands Plc is launching a vaping product to compete with Juul Labs Inc., as Chief Executive Officer Alison Cooper steps up efforts to reassure investors that smoking alternatives are an opportunity rather than a threat.

This month the maker of Winston cigarettes is releasing new vaping pods in the U.S. and U.K. containing nicotine salts, which allow the stimulant to be absorbed into the bloodstream more rapidly than when using a conventional e-cigarettes. The nicotine formulation is similar to that used by Juul, which has grabbed a 68 percent share of the U.S. retail market for vaping devices in just three years, according to Nielsen.