KT&G offers a heat-not-burn cig that you can vape with
Called the lil Hybrid, the device comes as a long cylinder - slightly bigger than the lil Plus - and requires two kinds of refills: heat-not-burn sticks and a liquid cartridge. Unlike previous heat-not-burn devices, lil Hybrid heats both the stick and the cartridge so that the vapor passes through the stick to deliver both flavor and smoke to the user.
“The biggest advantage of combining a liquid cartridge is that it creates amounts of smoke that wouldn’t be able to be produced by conventional heat-not-burns,” said Lim Wang-seop, who leads product innovation at KT&G, during a press event held Monday in central Seoul.
Lim added that less smoke compared to combustible cigarettes was one of the top answers consumers gave as a downside for heat-not-burn cigarettes. Users also disliked a specific taste that comes from steaming tobacco leaves and the difficulty of regularly cleaning the devices.
The new device is not compatible with tobacco refills for KT&G’s previous heat-not-burn devices, lil Plus and lil Mini. While the existing two devices use Fiit sticks, a new refill brand called Miix was released to work exclusively with the lil Hybrid. The device has a sensor that makes sure it doesn’t work with any other stick refills, even if they are similar in size.
Unlike most e-cigarette refills that have an opening at the end, lil Hybrid’s refill is sealed with a small slit shaped like the letter Y. This is where the vapor passes through. KT&G says this greatly reduces the amount of cigarette residue left inside the device, which means customers have to clean it less.
“One thing that surprised me during a pre-launch customer study was the response that the Hybrid offers a smoking experience much closer to combustible cigarettes,” said Lim. “This means the Hybrid may eat up demand for lil Plus or Mini, but also that it will be able to pull in smokers that consume combustible products.”
Miix comes in three flavors: Miix Presso, Miix Ice and Miix Mix, which has a flavor-changing capsule inside. The liquid cartridge does not contain any nicotine or flavor as its main function is more like an agent to increase smoke. One cartridge can work with up to 20 Miix sticks.
The lil Hybrid and its refills will start sales on Wednesday at lil Minimulium stores in Gangnam, southern Seoul, Dongdaemun in central Seoul and Songdo in Incheon, Gyeonggi. It will be sold at convenience stores in Seoul next month and start nationwide sales from January.
The device will be sold at 110,000 won, or 83,000 won with a coupon. Miix refills are 4,500 won per box, while the cartridge costs 500 won.
BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [firstname.lastname@example.org]