KT&G's Approach to Vapor Products in Korea

KT&G's Approach to Vapor Products in Korea
KT&G focuses on HNB products, combining vaporization and heating technology, and has not developed a separate vape brand due to government regulations.

Why has KT&G not launched a separate vape brand, despite having its current range of heated tobacco products such as Lil, Fiit, and MIX series?


As early as 2019, the South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare recommended that the public stop using vapes and promised to quickly determine whether to ban the sale of e-cigarettes.


In October 2022, the Ministry of Health and Welfare in South Korea issued a strong recommendation regarding vape use, advising people to stop using the product until results from relevant harmfulness tests are released. Additionally, the South Korean government proposed a series of improvement measures to eliminate the regulatory "dead zone" for e-cigarettes.


The Korean Electronic Cigarette Association has stated that the government's recommendation only covers atomized products in electronic cigarettes. Following the government's strong suggestion, sales of Korean vapes plummeted by 70%.


The South Korean government's plan to ban e-cigarettes may have an impact on local company KT&G's e-cigarette sales. KT&G issued a statement claiming that their products do not contain harmful substances and that they will cooperate with the government's investigation.


Due to policy factors, KT&G has not devoted much research and development to vaporized electronic cigarettes. However, KT&G does possess vaporization technology, but according to its current product strategy focus on heat-not-burn products, it has combined the vaporization technology with non-combustion heating technology, applying both to its HNB brand products.


Using KT&G's Lil series products as an example, there are three main characteristics of the products: firstly, the combination of atomization and non-combustion heating technologies heats the pod up to 160 degrees, improving the taste and increasing smoke volume; secondly, the heating chamber of the pod is circular and does not come into contact with the tobacco, making it easy to clean; thirdly, the dual-core heating technology expands the heating area of the tobacco, resulting in more uniform heating.


The Lil series product booth of KT&G. Image source: Tobacco Online.


On December 12th, KT&G announced that they will expand the sales points of their new product from the Lil series, "lil AIBLE", to 20,000 locations. This includes an addition of 11,095 convenience stores in major cities such as Seoul, Busan, Incheon, Daegu, Gwangju, Sejong, Suwon, and Seongnam.


This shows that KT&G places a high importance on HNB products.


Table 1: Some Product Brands of KT&G and the Four Major Tobacco Companies.


Image source: Created by 2FIRSTS.


Products and technology of the big four tobacco companies.


The IQOS series of Heat-Not-Burn (HNB) products from Philip Morris International are primarily characterized by their central heating process, which heats tobacco to 350 degrees without combustion. This results in the release of a vapor containing salts and alkanes which reduces harmful substances. The IQOS Mesh line of vaporization products is characterized by the production of smoke from heating water vapor without tar, using a pod with a mesh design.


The unique features of the GIO series HNB products by British American Tobacco are as follows: First, heating is done in stages controlled by intelligent electronic devices to ensure the best flavor. Second, the heating method is a four-way radiating pattern from the center. Third, the pods are thinner and longer, resulting in faster heating. Fourth, the inhalable aerosol contains nicotine and has about 90-95% lower toxicity compared to conventional cigarettes. Finally, a special method of decomposing the tobacco into particle form within the pod resolves the issue of nicotine concentration limits by heating the tobacco at 240℃.


The Vuse series of atomization products from British American Tobacco uses the FEELM ceramic core developed by Smoore International, combining a metal film with a ceramic conductor to significantly improve flavor, consistency, and transmission efficiency. Vuse e-cigarettes received their PMTA last year, becoming the first FDA-authorized brand.


Japanese Tobacco has launched two types of pods for its Ploom S series of HNB products: regular and menthol. The selection of flavors is limited. The product uses ring heating technology, which is known for its low efficiency in heat utilization. The low temperature heating of the device results in a less intense flavor for the regular type, while the menthol type provides a cool sensation with its refreshing formula.


Eight products from the Logic line of vapor products under Japan Tobacco have received authorization from the United States Food and Drug Administration's Pre-Market Tobacco Application (PMTA) process. The Logicvape products include cotton products such as Logicpower and pro, as well as Logic Vapeleaf, which is a heat-not-burn (HNB) product similar to Ploom tech. The main difference is that it heats tobacco capsules with vapor at a lower temperature.


Imperial Tobacco's Pulze series HNB (heat-not-burn) products utilize an "inside-out" heating technology with two modes: 345-degree high temperature and 315-degree low temperature. The Blu series atomized products use nicotine salt technology, which increases nicotine concentration in the bloodstream compared to regular e-cigarettes and also allows for faster absorption.


This document has been generated through artificial intelligence translation and is provided solely for the purposes of industry discourse and learning. Please note that the intellectual property rights of the content belong to the original media source or author. Owing to certain limitations in the translation process, there may be discrepancies between the translated text and the original content. We recommend referring to the original source for complete accuracy. In case of any inaccuracies, we invite you to reach out to us with corrections. If you believe any content has infringed upon your rights, please contact us immediately for its removal.