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Japan has become a crucial testing ground for two tobacco giants - Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco. A strong demand in the country has led to the suspension of ‘new technology e-cig' shipments by the two companies due to supply shortages.
Demands for traditional cigarettes have reportedly shrunk in other developed nations with Philip Morris, the world’s largest tobacco company, postponing a nationwide rollout of its products last April 2016.
In the words of Japan Tobacco CEO Mitsuomi Koizumi, “We have very high expectations for growth of the so-called tobacco vapor category in five years or so from now.” Philip Morris Japan president, Paul Riley, also believes of the success of introducing real tobacco e-smokes in the Japanese market as its commercialization will usher a promising global expansion of the revolutionary product.
iQOS Tobacco Stick
Switzerland and Italy are among the first few cities that sell real tobacco e-smokes, but Japan is the first to push for a nationwide release. The new product (priced at $89 or ¥9980) produces just enough vapor when introduced to heat but does not end up combusting. By injecting real tobacco in the picture, the iQOS stick is predicted to be more satisfying than existing e-cigs.
Similarities to existing e-cigs:
It is pen-shaped
Needs heat to produce tobacco vapor
Refills are sold as Marlboro HeatSticks
One pack of 20 HeatSticks costs ¥460, same price for regular Marlboro cigarettes
Japan Tobacco, the world’s 3rd largest tobacco manufacturer which controls approximately 60% of Japan’s cigarette market, has joined the e-cigarette hype by acquiring two overseas e-cigarette manufacturers two years ago.
Japan Tobacco is also the brainchild of Ploom TECH (¥4,000), with a selling point that heavily banks on vapor from granulated tobacco - testified by many to taste like real tobacco. Ploom TECH is a product which is smokeless, but still equally satisfying as traditional cigarettes. Much like iQOS, Ploom TECH’s initial launch in Fukuoka City was very popular due to shortage of supply.