KT&G Corp., Korea’s largest tobacco producer, plans to release a new version of its popular Esse brand on Wednesday to cater to growing demand for premium, ultraslim cigarettes.
The Esse Sense, the latest in the 17-model lineup, is designed to give a refreshing taste with its space at the tip of the filter to screen out tar and nicotine, the company said Monday.
Since its 2002 launch, the Esse has rapidly penetrated markets overseas to become the world’s top seller in the segment as low-tar, superslim cigarettes come into vogue across the age spectrum.
“Superslims are a global trend and have been the key design innovation of the last five years, with particular appeal to female smokers but also ‘cross-over’ appeal in a number of markets such as Korea where men have been receptive to the style,” said Euromonitor International, a research firm.
In the domestic market, the Esse pipeline alone commands about 25 percent share, while KT&G boasts an overall 60 percent stake.
The Seoul-based company currently exports the brand to 40 countries with a focus on the Middle East, Russia and other Eastern European states, officials said. It also runs plants in Turkey and Iran.
Esse Edge comes in two types, containing 1 milligram and 5 milligrams of tar. It costs 2,800 won a pack ($2.40).
By Shin Hyon-hee