NEW YORK -- Altria Group says that Chairman and CEO Howard Willard, who was recovering from COVID-19, has retired.
Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, did not say if the 56-year-old Willard’s retirement was related to his illness. The company said Willard, whose career spanned 28 years at the company, decided to retire.
Chief Financial Officer Billy Gifford will replace Willard as CEO effective immediately.
The board of directors credited Willard for guiding Altria as it transitions away from traditional cigarettes into non-combustibles.
Late in 2018, Altria discontinued its own e-cigarette line and bought a 35% stake in Juul Labs.