SEOUL, Aug. 29 (Korea Bizwire) – With the South Korean government likely to raise taxes on heat-not-burn (HNB) tobacco products, an increasing number of vapers are stocking up on HNB type e-cigarettes.
According to sources from the convenience store industry on Tuesday, sales of the famous HNB e-cigarette IQOS have drastically increased since reports emerged earlier last week that the taxation committee of the National Assembly’s Strategy and Finance Committee had agreed to increase a special consumption tax imposed on HNB tobacco products.
With a pack of heat sticks currently priced at somewhere around 4,000 won, the price is expected to rise over 5,000 won after the proposed tax hike bill passes at a meeting with the Strategy and Finance Committee and the Assembly plenary session.
At 7-Eleven, for instance, sales of heat sticks used for HNB e-cigarettes like IQOS jumped over 60 percent between August 22 and 27 compared to the previous week.
Considering a slight week-on-week sales increase of 1.7 percent reported between August 8 and 13, it’s clear that vapers are bulk purchasing in preparation for an e-cigarette tax hike.
Another major convenience store chain, Ministop, experienced a similar surge in sales last week, with a week-on-week 37.3 percent jump.
“The sales increase of HNB e-cigarettes in recent days is due to a growing number of vapers who are buying in bulk ahead of time before the proposed tax hikes come into effect, coupled with the increased supply of new products,” a Ministop official said.
Comments like “Let’s buy them (HNB e-cigarettes) in bulk before the price surges,” have become common online since the government made public its plans for tax hikes.
The sales surge at convenience store chains across the country come after the committee responsible for taxation announced last Tuesday it had agreed on a bill to raise the special consumption tax on HNB e-cigarette products from 126 won per pack to 594 won.
HNB type e-cigarettes are among the most popular products in the South Korea tobacco industry, with major e-cigarette makers like BAT and Philip Morris increasing their marketing efforts to boost sales, pushing fewer toxicants than a standard cigarette as a selling point.
However, a recent experiment suggesting that the new type of tobacco actually produces similar levels of harmful chemicals as conventional cigarettes saw their lower taxes come under scrutiny from lawmakers.
Hyunsu Yim (email@example.com)