E-cigarettes are fast replacing traditional cigarettes in Korea with its sales jumping 33.6 percent on year in the first quarter to account for more than 10 percent of the country’s total tobacco sales in just about two years since introduction.
According to data released by the Ministry of Economy and Finance on Friday, 782.7 million packs of cigarettes were sold during the first three months of this year in Korea, down 0.2 percent from a year earlier. Over the same period, sales of the traditional type of cigarettes contracted 3.4 percent on year to 690.7million packs while that of heat-not-burn (HNB) type expanded 33.6 percent on year to 92 million packs.
HNM type cigarettes or simply known as e-cigarettes officially hit the Korean market in May 2017. During the second quarter of that year, 2.0 million packs of e-cigarettes were sold to account for a mere 0.2 percent. But its share quickly grew to top 10 percent in the fourth quarter of last year and in the first quarter this year, it became responsible for 11.8 percent of the country’s total tobacco sales.
An economy and finance ministry official said the overall tobacco sales fell but the fall was offset by gains in e-cigarette sales.
Tax revenue from tobacco manufactures and sales of cigarettes totaled 2.2 trillion won ($1.9 billion) in the first quarter, down 16.0 percent from a year earlier. Tobacco contributes almost 3 percent of Korea`s total tax revenue.
By Chung Seok-woo and Cho Jeehyun
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]