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Consumer Confidential: GM sales rise, IKEA powers down, 'safer' smokeless tobacco

January 4, 2011 |  9:21 am

Caddypic Here's your tone-it-down Tuesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- Maybe what's good for General Motors is good for America after all. The formerly bankrupt carmaker says U.S. vehicle sales rose 6.3% last year, thanks to a strong lineup of new models. GM says it sold 2.2 million cars and trucks, even though it got rid of four brands to focus on Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac and GMC. Industry analysts expect overall sales for the industry to rise about 10% for the year. GM's December sales rose 7.5% because of hot sellers such as the Chevy Equinox, a smaller SUV that seats about five people. Could it be possible that Detroit has actually learned a thing or two from its recent woes?

--IKEA has turned off the light on old-school light bulbs. The home furnishing giant will now sell only longer-lasting and energy-efficient bulbs at its U.S. stores. IKEA began phasing out the sale of old-style light bulbs in August, ahead of federal legislation that would mandate more efficient light bulbs starting in 2012. The pullout also applies to IKEA stores in Canada. IKEA's available lighting options include the compact fluorescent bulb, LED, halogen and solar-powered lamps. Compact fluorescent, or CFL, bulbs use up to 80% less energy and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

-- A Virginia tobacco company is seeking federal approval for a moist smokeless tobacco that purportedly has lower levels of cancer-causing chemicals than any other tobacco product now on the market. Star Scientific, which sells tobacco lozenges that dissolve in the mouth, says it wants the Food and Drug Administration to affirm that its smokeless smokes are safer than any competing product. The federal Centers for Disease Control says that, because smokeless tobacco contains 28 cancer-causing agents, it is not a safe substitute for smoking cigarettes. But since when have tobacco companies let the facts get in the way of a good marketing campaign?

-- David Lazarus

Photo: GM is flying high with strong sales of Cadillac Escalades and other vehicles. Credit: G.J. McCarthy / MCT