as the market share of heat not burn devices has shot up to nearly 12% in the span of just two years in South Korea. Subsequently, Korea Tobacco & Ginseng Corporation has now decided to launch its device internationally and has formed a strategic business alliance with Phillip Morris in securing a global distribution network.
Under their business agreement Korea Tobacco & Ginseng Corporation and Phillip Morris will benefit from the acquisition of three of its heat not burn products: lil Hybrid, lil Plus, lil Mini, and an eLiquid vaping product called lil Vapor. “This strategic collaboration with the global industry leader Phillip Morris is an important opportunity for us to be recognized once again for our brand competitiveness and innovative product development capabilities,” Bok-In Baek, KT&G's CEO, released in a statement.
KT&G also said that the two companies are in joint discussions for parallel branding of lil and iQOS for overseas markets. Phillip Morris's CEO Andre Calantzopoulos said that KT&G’s heat not burn and hybrid products go in line with Phillip Morris's vision for a smoke-free future and that they intend to use their resources, knowledge, and infrastructure to the benefit of the Korean brand. “Our agreement will benefit adult smokers in the world by providing a wide array of better choices,” said Calantzopoulos.
Meanwhile, last November Philip Morris Korea announced a project which would promote the use of its heat not burn device iQOS, across Daegu City in South Korea. “Smoke-free future is not just simply a motto of our company’s vision,” said Philip Morris Korea Managing Editor, Chong Il-woo, in a statement. “Through our project in Daegu and Gyeongbuk, we hope to transparently provide scientific information to consumers and stakeholders, and create a progressive environment that protects everyone.”
The ‘Smoke-Free City’ project will last until the end of this year, and as part of the initiative the tobacco company’s staff will be visiting major public places and commercial areas across the city of Daegu, to promote the opening of vaping rooms. These rooms would be alternatives to smoking rooms, where vapers can use e-cigarettes and of course these heat not burn devices.
While this hybridized giant tobacco companies and government joint approach to combat smoking is interesting, will it be more effective than the approach we're seeing here in the states? More than likely as prohibition has never helped any vice from ceasing to be and only further goes to create problems for everyone involved.
What do you think about these moves? Is it a good faith attempt for South Koreans hoping to get rid of smoking in their country forever or is it just the predatory business practices of Phillip Morris attempting to pivot away from their failing tobacco business?