Tobacco Asia

Volume 19, Number 3

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38 tobaccoasia / Issue 3, 2015 (July/August) By Nattira Medvedeva 0 300 600 900 1200 1500 January February March April May June July August September October November December 100 99 129 137 145 178 219 261 257 637 770 1,353 It would seem that South Korea is jumping on the e-cigarette bandwagon as more of its population turns to e-cigarettes instead of traditional tobacco cigarettes. Korean E-Cig Boom In January 2014, G-Market, Korea's largest online shopping site, saw its sales of e-cigarettes at 10,000 units. Eleven months later that figure surged to 135,300 units. This was a 16-fold jump compared with its e-cigarette sales in December 2013. Lotte. com, another popular online shopping site, saw its e-cigarette sales increase by 18 times between Dec. 29 and Jan. 4 year-on-year. Customers in their 30s made up the largest portion their buyers at 41.7%. Data from the Korea Customs Service shows that imports of e-cigarette products jumped nearly sev- en-fold to ₩5.22 billion (US$4.76 million) during September-November 2014 compared with the same period in 2013. As of January 2015, the Ko- rean e-cigarette market was estimated to be worth ₩50 billion, with about 2,000 types of e-cigarettes available, most of which are produced by small and medium manufacturers. Even TV home shopping channels have em- braced the e-cigarette trend. CJ O Shopping was selling the Doctor Stick device in January 2015. This was the first time the channel had featured an e-cigarette since 2012. Around 3,000 units were sold within an hour after the segment aired. Lotte Home Shopping channel launched its own e-cig- arette device called the Last Stick and received in- creasing interest from buyers. Korea's Ruyantech Technology new e-cigarette, VEIL Maxi-S", sold out in just three days after it went on sale. Even convenience stores have been selling disposable e- cigarettes from Ecin Korea. According to Jeong Seong Soo of AIDA Korea, a Korean e-cigarette manufacturer, e- cigarettes were introduced to the Korean market a while back, but became popular in 2011-2012. After that, the trend turned downward. "At that time, e-cigarette devices and liquids were not of good quality," said Jeong. "And [the media] also broadcasted bad news about e-cigarettes without any survey reports. Because of these reasons, the domestic (Korean) market was shocked and many shops were shut down." Contributing to the cause of this was a report released in 2012 by the Ko- rean Ministry of Health and Welfare which said that e-cigarettes contain carcinogens, hormones, and unspecified levels of nicotine, and were no al- ternative to real tobacco cigarettes. AIDA Korea was established in 2014 and has a manufacturing facility in Korea offering Korean- made e-cigarettes to both the domestic and inter- national markets. It also has set up AIDA China in order to be more competitive in the Chinese market. So what was it that caused Koreans to sudden- ly develop a strong affinity for e-cigarettes again, turning their backs on the tobacco cigarettes they had happily been smoking for years? The answer is the increased tobacco tax that kicked in on Janu- ary 1, 2015. In September 2014, the Korean gov- ernment announced a plan to raise the price of a packet of cigarettes by ₩2,000 (US$1.83) as part of an anti-smoking campaign. This pushed the source: G Market government announces tax Korea: Sales growth of e-cigarettes *Based on sales of January 2014 as 100

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