Tobacco Asia

Volume 19, Number 1

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24 tobaccoasia PRODUCT NEWS 产品新闻 UK Imperial Mouth Strips Imperial Tobacco Group, the world's third largest cigarette maker, is delving into caffeine by launching a melt-in- your-mouth strip designed to give an energy boost in seconds. The move is seen as an attempt by the maker of Davidoff and Gauloises to diversify its product line away from tobacco. Developed by Imperial's subsidiary Fontem Ventures, the product, called Reon, packs eight strips, each containing 20 mg of caffeine, and comes in such flavors as "grapefruit & zing" and "black currant & fresh". A pack costs £2.50 pounds (US$4) and currently sells in the English city of Manchester as well as online. Manchester was selected because it has the second highest per-capita consumption rate of energy drinks in Britain after London. "We spent a lot of time with industry experts and consumers testing various product ideas and this one, caffeinated strips, always came back as No. 1," said Fontem's Lifestyle Energy category director Olga Rusnak, as quoted by Reuters. "People just love the idea of being able to have products that contain moderate amounts of caffeine right in your pocket, on the go." Caffeine strips tap into booming demand for energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster. Euromonitor International expects the global energy drink market to be worth more than $47 billion by 2019 from nearly $31 billion today. Other caffeine mouth strips are already on the market, like Sheets, launched by US basketball star LeBron James. France New E-cig from Imperial Imperial Tobacco Group Plc is launch- ing a new e-cigarette in France, which will become a complementary lifestyle brand to its existing Puritane line, marketed more as a healthcare product. The new brand, called Jai, will be sold in tobacconist shops, while Puritane is sold online and exclusively behind the counter at UK's Boots pharmacy chain. Imperial's move shows the growing division in the burgeoning industry for nicotine alternatives. Some products, such as Puritane and British American Tobacco Plc's Voke device aim to position themselves as smoking cessation devices. Most others, such as BAT's Vype and Lorillard Inc's blu, are marketed as trendy alternatives to smoking. While Imperial is launching Jai in France, it is also eyeing Italy where a launch is expected by the end of February. Imperial also agreed to buy blu, a top US brand, back in July 2014 as part of a $7.1 billion cigarette deal aimed at easing Reynolds American Inc's acquisition of Lorillard. Once that deal closes, Imperial would have a big footprint in e-cigarettes in the US and its home market, the UK. South Korea Cigarettes vs. E-cigarettes Cigarette imports dropped year-on-year in 2014, but imports of electronic cigarettes skyrocketed as South Koreans tried to give up tobacco after the government raised prices, the Korea Customs Service (KCS) office said. The government raised the average price of a pack of cigarettes by KRW2,000 (US$1.84) on January 1, 2015 pushing smokers to quit with the help of e-cigarettes. A tally from the KCS showed cigarette imports dropped 14.4% in 2014 compared to the previous year, or US$15.9 million in value, down from US$18.57 million in 2013. In terms of volume, South Korea bought 823 tons of cigarettes from abroad, down 15.4% from 973 tons the year before. Imports of e-cigarettes, on the other hand, skyrocketed 342% year-on-year to US$10.14 million, with 138 tons worth of the products being brought into the country. This is a gain of 348.2% from the year before in volume. Most e-cigarette products did not come with liquid solutions, which explains imports of the solutions jumping 344.5% in value to US$4.43 million with quantity gaining 283.8% to 66 tons. The KCS said last year's trend mirrors developments that have been taking place for some time. While there was a rush to import foreign cigarettes before prices went up, this did not affect the overall trend. Meanwhile, Philip Morris, one of the largest tobacco companies in the world, said that it would cut local prices on its Marlboro and Parliament cigarettes, marking down the two products to KRW4,500 per pack, from KRW4,700. The two cigarette brands make up 75% of all sales in South Korea. US Snus & E-cigs Epidemiologists estimate that if the smoking rate continues to decline at the current pace, it will take 40 years to halve again. The immediate solution should be to make it safer to use nicotine and there are two relatively novel ways to quit smoking: Swedish snus and electronic cigarettes. Snus is tobacco that comes in a tiny tea bag that the user puts between upper lip and gum. Nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream with much lower rates of oral cancer, compared to those who never smoked at all. Both snus and e-cigs represent an effective harm reduction strategy for those unwilling to give up nicotine. Ideally, smokers would use these options as a bridge to total abstinence from nicotine, but even if they don't, the health advantage to chronic use of snus compared to smoking is great. Nicotine poses less health risk for most people and it is virtually certain that even continued use of e-cigs is safer than regular smoking. Moreover, while the percentages of high school students who used e-cigs at least once within 30 days rose from 1.5% to 4.5% between 2011 and 2013, high school smoking simultaneously declined from 15.8% to 12.7%, the lowest it has ever been. It suggests that kids who smoke may be turning to e-cigarettes to stop.

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