Cigarette Volume Decline in Japan 2016-2018

Knowledge•Action•Change (2018)

Clive Bates

The uptake of heat-not-burn (HNB) products is disrupting the traditional Japanese cigarette market. Japan Tobacco International is the major tobacco company with around 60 percent of the Japanese cigarette market, and unlike some tobacco companies, releases monthly information on sales. From 2016 to 2017 its volume of cigarettes sales fell 14 percent, with a further fall of 13 percent in 2018 (based on 2016 levels). This is an extraordinary collapse in cigarette sales, of 27 percent over two years. A 27 percent drop in cigarette sales in two years is unprecedented in Japan: over the 16 years from 1996 to 2012 domestic cigarette consumption fell by 46 percent – or just over 2.9 percent a year on average. It is likely the highest drop in cigarette consumption over that time seen in any country.

Euromonitor International expects that HNB will be at least 22 percent of the Japanese market for tobacco by 2021 if it continues to drive out cigarettes. What is interesting about the Euromonitor tracking is that the total volume of tobacco purchased is not expected to change, but the type of tobacco purchased is. This is somewhat different to the experience in Sweden and Norway where the switch to safer nicotine products (SNP) has been accompanied by longer term declines in tobacco consumption – the difference, of course, being that tobacco users in Sweden and Norway have a much longer experience with SNP.

See also p. 56 of the report: No Fire, No Smoke: The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction 2018 — Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction (gsthr.org)

Cigarette Volume Decline in Japan 2016-2018

Cigarette Volume Decline in Japan 2016-2018

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