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KT&G to roll out new e-cigarette next week

All Headlines 09:35 May 17, 2018

SEOUL, May 17 (Yonhap) -- KT&G Corp., South Korea's leading cigarette maker, said Thursday it will put a new heat-not-burn (HNB) electronic cigarette on the market next week.

The product, dubbed lil plus, will hit domestic store shelves next Wednesday, the first anniversary of the debut of HNB e-cigarettes in the South Korean market.

Phillip Morris launched its HNB electronic tobacco iQOS in South Korea on the same day a year ago, and the company plans to host a media day this year to mark the anniversary.

KT&G said its selection of the rollout day for the new product is unrelated to the first anniversary of Phillip Morris' iQOS launch here.

But industry watchers said KT&G seems to have targeted the anniversary as the company had originally been expected to release a new product in June or July.

KT&G to roll out new e-cigarette next week - 1

KT&G's launch of the new product also appears designed to meet the possibly growing need for the replacement of e-cigarette heating devices, it added.

Electronic tobacco heating devices should be replaced after use for about a year, with the replacement demand within the next three months estimated at more than 500,000, according to the company.

Meanwhile, industry leader Phillip Morris and British American Tobacco, which sells the Glo e-cigarette here, are also poised to roll out next-generation products with improved functions soon, with their launch dates yet to be set, the sources said.

Currently, HNB e-cigarettes account for some 10 percent of all tobacco sales in South Korea, and the proportion is expected to expand to some 30 percent in 2020.

Tobacco companies don't disclose their shares of the HNB e-cigarette market, but Phillip Morris' iQOS is estimated to enjoy the largest portion of 50 percent to 60 percent, with lil and Glo taking up the remainder.

The market has been growing at a fast pace since the debut of iQOS. 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.

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