Big tobacco companies are jumping on the e-cigarette bandwagon with a range of strategies to tap into a market that some analysts believe could eclipse traditional cigarettes in 10 years.
They are competing with hundreds of smaller companies that have sprung up in the last few years to exploit the fast-growing but largely unregulated global e-smoking market, which Euromonitor estimates was worth more than $2 billion (1.2 billion pounds) in 2012.
Here is a snapshot of recent Big Tobacco initiatives:
* Altria: the owner of Marlboro cigarettes maker Philip Morris said on June 11 its Nu Mark subsidiary would launch e-cigarettes under the brand name MarkTen in Indiana in August. It is the last of the large U.S. tobacco firms to enter the space.
* Reynolds American: the maker of Camel cigarettes said on June 6 it would expand the testing of its Vuse e-cigarettes to retail outlets in Colorado, beginning in July.
* Imperial Tobacco: the maker of Gauloises cigarettes said on April 30 it had set up a venture called Fontem to develop e-cigarettes.
* Lorillard: the maker of Newport menthol cigarettes paid around $135 million in April 2012 to acquire Blu Ecigs, a leading e-cigarette company.
* British American Tobacco: the maker of Kent cigarettes set up Nicoventures in 2011 as a standalone company to develop smokeless nicotine products. It already has a product, which it is working on with Consort Medical, under regulatory review in Britain.
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Will Waterman)
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