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Stop Smoking Firms Capitalize on New Ban on Domestic Flights

March 4, 1990

LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. (AP) _ There’s not much puffing on U.S. airliners these days, and that has Charles Sleichter smiling.

Sleichter, president of Advantage Life Products Inc. in the Orange County community of Laguna Hills, thinks the new federal regulation banning smoking on most domestic airline flights will boost sales of his company’s ″smoking alternative.″

″If you look at all the smoking bans, this one gives smokers no way out,″ he said.

Advantage is poised to capitalize on that.

It has planned a $4 million advertising campaign for later this year and is placing displays of its CigArrest chewing gum in airport gift shops, along with the slogan: ″Help Me Make It Through the Flight.″

The company has not had much success in trying to convince airlines to let flight attendants offer CigArrest to passengers undergoing nicotine withdrawal, however.

Because of industry officials’ concerns that passengers will smash sticky gobs of gum on plane seats, Sleichter said he is looking at the possibility of marketing the product in another form: a throat lozenge.

The law passed by Congress last year bans smoking on all flights within the United States except a few lasting six hours or longer to or from Hawaii or Alaska. It went into effect Feb. 25, replacing an earlier smoking ban on domestic flights of two hours or less.

Advantage isn’t the only company involved in the $285 million stop-smoking industry that has thought about how the ban will affect business.

Officials with Dep Corp., the distributor of Ban-Tron stop-smoking pills, said they’re trying to get airlines to offer their gum to passengers too.

Schick Laboratories, the stop-smoking clinic chain, is slashing fees and creating a television special to focus on the need to quit smoking in the wake of the ban, company spokesman Ed Butler said.

But not everyone is capitalizing on the ban.

Merrell Dow Inc., the Kansas City-based manufacturer of Nicorette chewing gum, said it has no plans for a major campaign.

″I think there has been very little publicity and very little public controversy (now that) the ban is going into effect,″ said John F. Banzhaf III, executive director of Action on Smoking and Health in Washington. The group is an anti-smoking lobby.

″I think the reality of it is that it has yet to hit the smokers,″ Banzhaf said. ″But once it does, I would expect that companies would capitalize on it.″

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