The Food and Drug Administration shocked many when it announced this summer that it would start the process of lowering nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels. Investors hammered Big Tobacco stocks.
However, with many next-generation products already in development, there are some Big Tobacco companies that could actually benefit from the FDA's new nicotine initiatives.
The two leading concepts Big Tobacco is developing are vaping products and heat-not-burn products.
Most e-cigarettes use vaping technology, which heats liquid nicotine to create vapor. These products do not contain tobacco, potentially eliminating the risks associated with conventional cigarettes. However, critics say e-cigarettes may carry their own risks.
Heat-not-burn products use tobacco, but devices heat it instead of burning it. This prevents combustion, a chemical reaction that creates most toxic chemicals associated with cigarettes. Heat-not-burn products reduce risk by 90 percent or more, companies say.
To be sure, small companies are innovating in big ways. 22nd Century Group's Goodrich Tobacco has created low-nicotine cigarettes. The company modifies tobacco plants' genes in some varieties and breeds plants in others to manipulate how much nicotine the plant produces.
Meanwhile, JUUL Labs' JUUL e-cigarette has soared in popularity among millennials. The sleek device is about as long as the palm of a hand and as thin as a flash drive. It is supposed to provide an experience that's as satisfying as smoking thanks to the use of nicotine salts found in tobacco leaves.
Smaller companies may be generating plenty of buzz, but Big Tobacco is also innovating. Here are some alternative nicotine products some of the world's largest tobacco companies are creating.