SEOUL, May 15 (Korea Bizwire) — The Ministry of Health has added graphic photos to packaging for electronic cigarettes, taking the tobacco industry by surprise.
Electronic cigarettes created quite a stir in the industry after their release last year in Korea. But after the government’s strong drive against them, producers have yet to come up with a plan that can mitigate regulations.
The Korea Tobacco Association, which is composed of four cigarette manufactures, KT&G, Philip Morris Korea, JTI Korea and BAT Korea, strongly voiced discontent over the ministry’s decision, calling it “unreasonable and non-scientific.”
The association claimed that the graphic warning photos to be featured on packaging of electronic cigarettes were “worrisome as the packaging featured cancer cells” and other photos not scientifically proven to be associated with cigarettes.
Some in the industry claim that the marketing efforts of electronic cigarette manufacturers stress they contain less harmful contents than their traditional counterparts.
The graphic photos on the packaging, therefore, may offset the viability of such claims made by producers of electronic cigarettes. Yet others have said that the photos on the packaging are even more grotesque than those containing normal cigarettes.
Experts say the conventional cigarettes may benefit from the new developments. Philip Morris Korea, the cigarette producer with the largest domestic market share, stated that “if the new measures are implemented, consumers will be more inclined to smoke traditional cigarettes.”
Such measures by the government have implications overseas as well.
Of the 37 countries that currently sell Phillip Morris IQOS electronic cigarettes, the top-selling product worldwide, Colombia is the only country that features cancerous cells and other graphic photos on its packaging of IQOS electronic cigarettes.
As the controversy surrounding electronic cigarettes continues, Korea will be the first OECD-member nation that will be featuring graphic packaging.
However, many in the industry are downplaying the effects of the Ministry of Health’s efforts, claiming that smokers are already used to graphic photos on cigarette packages and are unlikely to be affected by the new packaging.
One insider claimed that ministry was overreaching in its bid to regulate electronic cigarettes, and that the public would have to wait to see the actual aftermaths of such regulations.
H. S. Seo (email@example.com)