• May 21, 2024

Japan: Cigarette Sales Drop Below 100 Billion

 Japan: Cigarette Sales Drop Below 100 Billion
Photo: Colleen WIlliams

Cigarette sales in Japan fell below 100 billion in 2020 for the first time in decades as more smokers embraced tobacco-heating products, reports Japan Today, citing industry data.

In the year that ended in March, cigarette sales plunged by a record 16.3 percent from the year before to 98.8 billion sticks, the lowest since fiscal 1990 when comparable data became available, according to the Tobacco Institute of Japan.

The figure represents more than a 70 percent drop from fiscal 1996 when sales peaked at 348.3 billion cigarettes.

In 2019, 27.1 percent of men and 7.6 percent of women regularly smoked, down from 29 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively, from the year before, the survey showed.

Smokers in Japan purchased 41.3 billion heated-tobacco products in 2020, equivalent to some 40 percent of rolled cigarette sales.

Industry officials attributed the growing popularity of tobacco-heating products in part to the Covid-19 pandemic. While coronavirus lockdowns created more opportunities to smoke at home, many teleworkers opted for tobacco-heating products to avoid releasing smoke inside their homes or on balconies.

In April, Japan banned smoking in government buildings, eateries, hotel lobbies and workplaces.

In May, Philip Morris International CEO Jacek Olczak said the company expects to stop selling combustible cigarettes in Japan within the next 10 years to 15 years.  

Japan Tobacco, which saw falls in revenues and profits in 2020 due to slumping sales of combustible products, hopes to restore its performance by launching a new heated-cigarette product this summer.