The maker of Marlboro cigarettes is bringing in yuletide with a $12.8bn (£10.1bn) deal for vape startup Juul.
But the early Christmas present is more than a stocking filler Altria as it tries to tap into a rapidly growing market for e-cigarettes.
The company’s 35 per cent stake is a major vote of confidence in Juul, but allows the target to maintain its independence.
“We are taking significant action to prepare for a future where adult smokers overwhelmingly choose non-combustible products over cigarettes by investing $12.8 billion in Juul, a world leader in switching adult smokers,” said Altria chief executive Howard Willard.
Since being founded in 2015 Juul has expanded across eight countries and cornered around a third of the US market for e-cigarettes.
However, it has also faced criticism for features which critics say are aimed at children.
In November, the US Food and Drug Administration proposed new rules to regulate flavoured nicotine products as it revealed vaping had increased by 80 per cent among high school pupils.
Willard said: “We have long said that providing adult smokers with superior, satisfying products with the potential to reduce harm is the best way to achieve tobacco harm reduction.
“Through Juul, we are making the biggest investment in our history towards that goal. We strongly believe that working with Juul to accelerate its mission will have long-term benefits for adult smokers and our shareholders.”