Following the Korean government’s calls for stopping the use of liquid-type e-cigarettes over health concerns, some of the country’s major retailers are moving to suspend the sales of the related products.
|Juul Lab Korea's e-cigarette and its four flavored pods.|
The country’s largest hypermarket chain E-Mart said Thursday it would remove flavored liquid e-cigarettes, including Viento’s Ice Mango, Watermelon, and five different flavors, as well as Relx’s Mung Bean Ice and Fruits, from its 74 stores across the nation.
One of Korea’s largest convenience chain GS25 also said it has stopped selling Juul Labs Korea’s vaping e-cig Tropical, Delight, and Crisp, as well as KT&G’s Siid Tundra and three other flavors.
Both companies also said they would consider dropping all vaping products if the ongoing government investigation found them harmful.
As GS25 has suspended the sales of liquid-type e-cigarettes, the attention is now on whether the discontinuation will spread to other convenience stores.
Other large convenience chains, such as CU and E-Mart24, are known to have replied that they are having an internal discussion on whether to stop selling the products, while Seven-Eleven replied that it would follow the government’s policies as they come out.
If other convenience chains join in the suspension, liquid-type e-cigarettes may lose their footing in Korea and be forced out of the market, market watchers said.
Industry officials say that Juul Labs Korea has the most to lose if such concerns become a reality.
Although Juul has three specialty stores in Seoul, more than 70 percent of its sales come from convenience stores. As GS25 owns 13,000 stores out of the 42,000 total local convenience stores, Juul Labs has already lost one-third of its sales channel.
Juul Labs Korea has reportedly been astonished by GS25's announcement as the convenience store chain has not gone through proper communications with the company before deciding to suspend the sales of its product.
“Juul Labs recognizes the importance of working with retailers,” the company said in a press release after GS25’s decision. “As with other partners, we hope we will be able to continue to communicate with GS25 representatives.”
It went on to say, “As a responsible member of the industry, we look forward to providing alternatives to regular cigarettes for local smokers."
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