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Demand for New Heat-Not-Burn Products Outpacing Supply

NATIONAL REPORT — Heat-not-burn products are proving popular as the tobacco industry looks to innovative products to meet changing demand.

British American Tobacco (BAT) launched its "glo" tobacco heating device in Japan in November. And, according to Reuters, demand for the product overwhelmed the supply.

Similarly, Philip Morris International (PMI) said recently it has more than doubled the supply of iQOS tobacco device in Japan but it was not enough to cover the demand, the news outlet reported.

According to BAT, glo heats rather than burns tobacco to deliver "a cleaner experience with around 90-percent less toxicants" than a cigarette. The "one-unit, one-button" device is "simple and intuitive, with one single charge lasting more than 30 sessions based on back-to-back usage," the company added at the time of the launch in Japan.

PMI brought its iQOS device nationwide in Japan in April after testing in several major cities. The company has sold more than 3 million iQOS devices to date, Reuters added.

As the news outlet reported, global tobacco companies see Japan as a fertile test ground for these products since electronic cigarettes are not permitted under the country's pharmaceutical regulation.

"We are seeing very strong sales. It's much beyond our expectations," Nami Uehara, brand marketing official at BAT Japan, told Reuters.

BAT started the sale of glo in the northeastern city of Sendai in December. The device is sold at about 600 convenience stores in the city and the glo flagship store. Uehara said in the first week of the sale, some people waited overnight in front of the flagship store to get the device.

BAT said the daily supply of devices at the flagship store is 100 for weekdays and 250 on weekends. However, more people than available devices were waiting in line three hours before the store opens at 10 a.m. 

"We were giving purchase tickets at 7 a.m. but all of them were gone instantly," Uehara said.

In light of the demand, the company from a first-come, first-served approach to an online reservation and daily supply assigned by lottery. BAT plans to start selling glo in the rest of Japan later this year.

Japan Tobacco Inc. will begin selling Ploom Tech tobacco-based electronic cigarettes in some parts of Tokyo in June.

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