Heat-not-burn cigarette sales soar

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Heat-not-burn cigarette sales soar

Korea has seen sales of heat-not-burn (HNB) electronic cigarettes grow rapidly since their debut here last year, amid soaring popularity among local smokers, data showed Wednesday.

According to the data from the government and industry sources, 163 million packs of HNB tobacco products were sold in the country between May 2017 and this March. One pack contains 20 e-cigarettes.

Phillip Morris’ iQOS was the first HNB e-cigarette to hit the domestic market. Other products include British American Tobacco’s Glo and Korean leading cigarette maker KT&G Corp.’s lil.

In May last year, e-cigarette sales stood at 1 million packs, but the number skyrocketed to 10 million back in July and 21 million packs in October.

However, the pace of their rapid growth slowed sharply as Korea’s tax and health authorities sought to raise taxes on e-cigarettes and limited tobacco companies’ promotional activities.

Monthly sales tumbled to 11 million packs in November and 12 million packs a month later.

In December, Korea’s parliament passed a bill to raise the local tax on heat-not-burn (HNB) tobacco products to 897 won ($0.83) per pack from the previous 528 won.

But sales of e-cigarettes began to rise sharply this year. Monthly shipments of HNB tobacco products soared to 23 million packs in January, with numbers reaching 22 million packs in February and 24 million packs in March.

Soaring e-cigarette sales have prompted the local health authorities to take action. The Health Ministry said Tuesday it is considering a move to enlarge the size of graphic warnings on cigarette packs to discourage people from smoking.

The ministry aims to lower the smoking rate for men aged 19 and older to 29 percent by 2020.

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