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JAPAN

JT domestic cigarette volume plunges 20 per cent

18 Apr 2017. Japan Tobacco (JT) hung on to its dominant share of the Japanese market but cigarette sales volume in March plummeted by more than 2 billion sticks, which the company said was a 20.4 per cent decline from a year ago.

The steep decline to 8.5 billion sticks from 10.6 billion in March 2016 is measured against an unusually strong 18.9 per cent volume increase last year. However sales volume in the January-March period was down 15.3 per cent compared with a 6.7 per cent gain last year, which appears to bear out JT predictions that sales volume would drop this year as Japanese smokers quit or switch to lower risk products such as tobacco heating sticks. JT did not comment on the statistics.

JT competitors do not release monthly data on the Japanese market, however Nikkei Asian Review reported Philip Morris International is planning to ask the Finance Ministry to allow price increases on most of its cigarettes sold in Japan. The expected request is unusual because cigarette companies traditionally are allowed price increases only when taxes are raised, the business publication said.

JT market share in March at 61.7 per cent was higher than the 61.1 per cent average for last year. Cigarette revenue in January-March was down 11.5 per cent at JPY 136.3 billion (EUR 1.2 billion), JT said.