EmploymentCrossing.com Altria Group, owner of the nation’s biggest cigarette manufacturer, announced on Tuesday that it has started cutting jobs due to the economic crunch. A spokesperson for the company declined to state how many jobs would be cut, but said they would be cutting jobs at Altria, and its cigarette unit, Philip Morris USA. Both companies are based in Richmond, Virginia. Altria Group also owns cigar maker John Middleton and is also buying smokeless tobacco company UST Inc. to pursue growth outside of cigarettes. Spokesperson David Sylvia confirmed that the company is cutting jobs and is deciding how many layoffs will occur between now and February 2009. Altria originally announced in August 2007 it would cut as many as 400 job positions when it moved headquarter offices from New York to Richmond, Virginia. These cuts were designed to save $250 million annually. The latest cuts, are in addition to those layoffs. Altria and its subsidiaries employ more than 10,500 people.