Tobacco giant Philip Morris is heeding to consumer preferences as it plots a smoke-free future.
A partnership will use PMI’s resources, knowledge and infrastructure to launch South Korean tobacco and nicotine company KT&G’s smoke-free products outside South Korea. Items sold under this agreement will give consumers across multiple international markets access to KT&G's smoke-free products for the first time, accelerating the achievement of PMI's vision of a smoke-free future while enabling KT&G to benefit from PMI's technical, scientific and international expertise.
Part of a three-year agreement, Philip Morris will be the exclusive distributor for such products as the Lil Mini and Lil Plus tobacco-heating systems, the Lil Vapor vaping products, and the Lil Hybrid combination.
It will also continue to distribute its own line of IQOS products, which heats up tobacco but doesn’t burn it.
The company will not distribute the products within the U.S. or South Korea.
André Calantzopoulos, Philip Morris CEO, says, “Our objective is that all adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke switch as soon as possible to better alternatives and abandon cigarettes to the benefit of their health, public health and society at large.”
The number of people who vape in the world is expected to reach 55 million, according to Euromonitor via BBC News. As the practice grows in popularity, it remains mired in controversy given a lack of clarity around potential negative health implications.
While proponents cite its effectiveness in smoking cessation, it’s not yet accepted as a practice free of health risks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaping products have the potential to benefit cigarette smokers when used a complete substitute, but it cautions that available science indicates they still contain harmful and potentially harmful ingredients.
Given the headwinds the vaping industry faces in the United States, manufacturers are eyeing other parts of the world, especially Asia, where restrictions are looser.