Referred to as the “iPhone of e-cigs”, Metallic Blue is priced at 120,000 won ($110), and can be purchased both in stores and online. Last November PMI also released the limited edition iQOS Ruby edition, and the regular iQOS was first launched in Korea the previous May. Subsequently, PMI’s competitor BAT Korea launched its “Glo” device in August and KT&G released its “Lil” device on the market in November.
HnB products levied a lower tax rate than cigarettes
At first, these products had held an advantageous position in the market, as South Korea had categorized such tobacco products differently than their combustible counterparts, and were levied at a lower tax rate than the 75% imposed on regular cigarettes.
Since then, the Korean government has raised the consumption tax on the products from 538 won to 897 won, which is still lower than the 1,007 won levied on regular cigarettes. In response to this, PMI has increased the prices of the Heatsticks that go with the IQOS device by 4.7%.
PMI striving to gain credibility
In Korea, as around the world, many are still skeptical about the relative benefits of switching from regular cigarettes to HnB devices and electronic cigarettes. Last November Philip Morris Korea’s corporate affairs director, Kim Byung-chul, said that the company is fully aware of these credibility issues. “We’re searching ways to overcome this issue. We have released our latest study results. In early next year, we will disclose raw data of the study. It is very rare to release raw data in this industry,” he said at the time.
Read Further: Korea Biomedical Review