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Last year, both PMI and Japan Tobacco Inc. struggled to keep up with the demand of their own electronic devices. When the latter found itself suffering a significant shortage of supply, it had to resign to the fact that PMI, which is one of the largest tobacco companies in the world, was going to lead the market in Japan.

Ploom Tech operates differently than Philip Morris’s IQOS. Instead of directly heating tobacco leaves, its battery-powered device produces vapour that goes through a capsule packed with tobacco leaves, which according to Japan Tobacco results in the device emitting a significantly more subtle smell than any other “heat-not-burn” products.

Japan a test ground for vaping products

Japan Tobacco will start selling its Ploom Tech at its flagship shops on Thursday and in another 100 tobacco stores in Tokyo as from July 10. The product will be sold nationwide by the first half of 2018.
An article published earlier this week on Reuters pointed out that tobacco companies see Japan as a testing ground for vaping products, since nicotine containing e-liquids are not allowed in the country.

Additionally, Japan is a nation renowned for having a high regard for cleanliness and health and e-cigarettes are in line with both these values according to Akari Utsunomiya, a research analyst with Euromonitor in Tokyo. Hence why “Tobacco companies are seeking the chance for new opportunities in the tobacco market in Japan”.

Aiming for a leading position

Japan Tobacco said that approximately 80 smoke-free restaurants, cafes and other public places in Fukuoka already allow the use of Ploom Tech, while In Tokyo, there are about 120 such facilities.

The tobacco firm, a former state monopoly still partly owned by the government, will start selling its Ploom Tech at its flagship shops on Thursday and in another 100 tobacco stores in Tokyo as from July 10. Subsequently the company plans to start selling its product nationwide by the first half of 2018. Japan Tobacco is not only aiming to reclaim its position in the market but also to become its leader.

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