Japan taking to heat-not-burn

    Heat-not-burn vapor devices are so popular in Japan that supply cannot keep up with demand, according to a story in The Japan News.

    Sales of Philip Morris’ iQOS device, which were said to have begun in Tokyo, were expanded nation-wide in April, and, even though the kit is priced at ¥9,980 (US$100), convenience stores and tobacco shops have found it quickly sells out whenever it hits the shelves.

    “We distribute numbered tickets to customers on the day we get iQOS,” the manager of a tobacco shop in Tokyo was quoted as saying. “But we can’t keep up with [the increasing demand].”

    The News story said the market share of iQOS in Tokyo had already surpassed five percent – presumably five percent of the cigarette market.

    Meanwhile, Japan Tobacco started selling in March in Fukuoka and on the Internet the latest version of its Ploom heat-not-burn device, Ploom TECH, for ¥4,000.

    But JT had to suspended shipments temporarily in the face of a flood of orders, and, even though it resumed shipments in June, the company has currently suspended online orders from new customers.

    Local governments in Japan take different positions when it comes to electronic cigarettes. The government of Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, considers them cigarettes, and therefore imposes penalties on those who vape them while walking on the street.

    In contrast, the Osaka and Nagoya municipal governments currently exempt electronic cigarettes from such regulations, citing the fact that the flameless products can’t burn other people.

    It is left up to public facilities, such as restaurants and hotels, to decide whether electronic cigarettes may be used in non-smoking areas.