Japan Tobacco Inc. will expand sales of its Ploom TECH vapor device to stores throughout Japan starting in 2017, according to a story in The Nikkei Asian Review.
The popularity of Ploom has soared and JT has been unable to keep up with demand since limited sales began in March.
JT plans to invest about ¥50 billion yen ($481 million) in factories in Japan and China with the aim of producing by sometime next year 10 times as many of the devices as was possible at the launch.
The devices are available online and in the southern city of Fukuoka, but sales will be expanded to cover stores in Tokyo and other large urban areas, and then other parts of the country. The company will consider also overseas sales.
Ploom TECH heats up a liquid-filled cartridge to generate vapor, which passes through a capsule containing granulated tobacco so as to deliver a cigarette-like taste without smoke.
JT is chasing Philip Morris International in the home market. PMI began test-marketing its iQOS vapor device in Nagoya in 2014 and went nationwide with sales in April. Cumulative Japanese sales of the device reached two million units last month. In just two years, the device’s cigarette-like HeatStick inserts have found a niche that is equivalent to roughly five percent of the Japanese market for regular tobacco cigarettes.