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Tobacco imports hit record high in 2018 on e-cigarette boom

All Headlines 14:24 September 15, 2019

SEJONG, Sept. 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's tobacco imports rose to the highest level ever last year on the back of the popularity of e-cigarettes, government data showed Sunday.

South Korea imported US$589.3 million worth of tobacco products in 2018, a record-high amount and the largest on-year growth since 1995, according to Statistics Korea.

The sharp rise in tobacco imports was driven by strong sales of e-cigarettes, which are mostly made in foreign countries.

About 330 million packs of e-cigarettes were sold in South Korea last year, representing exponential growth since their launch in the domestic market in May 2017.

An employee at a local convenience store examines e-cigarette stock on May 24, 2019. (Yonhap)

In contrast, sales of regular filtered cigarettes shed 30 million packs to reach 3.1 billion units last year.

South Korea shipped $925.3 million worth of tobacco products in 2018, the lowest-ever figure since data began to be compiled in 1977, Statistics Korea said.

A government official attributed falling tobacco exports to Philip Morris Korea's shifting its production from regular filter products to e-cigarettes last year, which led to a cut in overall shipments.

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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