• Reuters


British American Tobacco PLC has said it will launch two new tobacco heating products in Japan under its Glo brand, as it seeks to close the gap with market leader Philip Morris International Inc. in the country’s fast-growing vaping industry.

The new products, Glo Pro and Glo Nano, will come with new heating technologies and slimmer sizes, and will be available in Japan from October, the company said Tuesday, a month after it launched another product — Glo Sens — in Tokyo. The Glo brand was introduced in Japan in 2016.

The introduction of these vaping devices, known as “heat-not-burn” products, is part of new Chief Executive Jack Bowles’ plan to slim down the company’s “new categories” business to just three brands, including Glo.

Unlike combustible cigarettes, heat-not-burn products apply heat to tobacco-filled sticks wrapped in paper, to generate an aerosol that contains nicotine. They are different from e-cigarettes such as the popular Juul device, which vaporizes a nicotine-filled liquid.

Philip Morris leads the heat-not-burn market with its iQOS product in Japan. The nation has emerged as a fertile testing ground for vaping products, as e-cigarettes using nicotine-laced liquid are not allowed under domestic pharmaceutical regulations.

According to analysts at Nomura, the HNB market nearly doubled in Japan in 2018 from the year earlier, with iQOS commanding a 71.8 percent share of the market, followed by BAT’s Glo products with 20.1 percent. Local player Japan Tobacco Inc.’s Ploom Tech comes third with 8.1 percent.

The urgency for BAT to strengthen its business in Japan comes on the heels of Philip Morris’ announcement last week that it was in talks to merge with Altria Group Inc., which has a stake in U.S. e-cigarette market leader Juul Labs Inc.

Analysts have said their proposed combination could create a company with the scale and resources to dominate the e-cigarette market.

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