Altria doesn’t expect to see tobacco production decline in Ky.

tobacco Despite higher taxing and increasing regulations, Altria isn’t expecting a decline in tobacco production in the state this year.

Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco, employs about 330 Kentuckians.

“(The lack of decline) is a good thing,” Altria spokesman Ken Garcia said. “Some farmers that have grown for us over a period of time and have been successful may have an opportunity to grow more.”

Garcia said they haven’t seen opportunities for more growth for a few years.

Much of Altria’s growth and production in the state takes place in western Kentucky.

The company grows a large amount of burley tobacco in Warren and Barren counties. It also operates a tobacco receiving station in Hopkinsville.

The company also has a receiving station in Elizabethtown and some corporate offices in Murray.

In 2010, Philip Morris USA and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco bought more than 50 million pounds of tobacco from more than 2,000 Kentucky growers.

The tobacco is not just grown for cigarettes. According to the company, there’s an increase in smokeless tobacco sales.

In all, the state has more than 5,800 tobacco retailers. And nearly 40 percent of the average convenience store’s revenue comes from tobacco sales, according to Altria.

Garcia said he isn’t aware of a reason for the increase in smokeless tobacco.

“There’s a lot of migration between tobacco products,” Garcia said. “We’re seeing 7 percent growth a year in smokeless tobacco.”

Garcia said he doesn’t have specific data pertaining to a correlation between an increase in smokeless tobacco and a municipality passing a smoking ban.

Bowling Green passed a smoking ban Jan. 24, prohibiting smoking at most indoor businesses effective next month.

“Ultimately, if you want to enjoy tobacco but you can’t or don’t want to smoke, we want to have an alternative there,” Garcia said. “We know there’s a subset of folks out there that want to enjoy multiple tobacco products.”

source: www.bgdailynews.com

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