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PMK chief urges regulation ease based on ‘facts, science’

Philip Morris Korea Managing Director Paik Young-jay (PMK)
Philip Morris Korea Managing Director Paik Young-jay (PMK)

Philip Morris Korea Managing Director Paik Young-jay urged Tuesday for the government to come up with differentiated regulations for its heat-not-burn e-cigarettes, as the industry is largely misrepresented due to its “ideological” approach, rather than based on science.

Speaking at his first press conference held live on YouTube, the new managing director emphasized that heated tobacco products are less harmful substitutes for conventional cigarettes.

In the first quarter of this year, the total sales of tobacco products in South Korea increased by 600 million cigarettes compared to the year earlier, according to Paik. The sales of conventional cigarettes increased by 8.7 percent, but heat-not-burn e-cigarettes decreased by 11 percent.

Noting the slump in sales of e-cigarettes, Paik said “inaccurate information” on these products have caused confusion among smokers.

In 2018, South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety had said it found five cancer-causing substances in heat-not-burn tobacco products, with some of them having tar levels exceeding that of conventional cigarettes.

In objection, Philip Morris Korea said it filed a suit over the disclosure of information about its research, and the court recently ruled partially in favor of the company.

Saying HNB cigarettes are a better option from the perspective of public health, the director said the government “needs to present a differentiated regulation based on science, and fact-based constructive discussion is necessary across our society.”

“Our company’s vision is to ultimately replace conventional cigarettes with smoke-free tobacco products,” Paik, who was appointed to the position in March, said.

Paik, who has an IT background, serving as the country managing director of Blizzard Entertainment Korea and director at Google, said he chose to join the tobacco company because of its vision for ”Smoke-Free Future.”

“Philip Morris do not recommend nonsmokers to start smoking. But from many interviews, I found sincerity in its goal, to a less harmful product for adult smokers, and ultimately, in its vision to offer a better substitute to conventional cigarettes,“ Paik said.

Paik presented his three goals as the managing director of the company: making an effort to create the differentiated regulatory environment based on science; driving the growth of the market for HNB products; responsible management.

According to Paik, Philip Morris International has invested more than 8 trillion won ($6.7 billion) in HNB products over the past 10 years, and IQOS, the company‘s flagship HNB product, has launched in 53 countries around the world.

In 2017, PM Korea invested 300 billion won to establish its Yangsan factory in South Gyeongsang Province, the only Heets manufacturing facility in the Asia and Pacific region. PM International currently operates five other factories for the tobacco product, of which all are located in Europe -- Switzerland, Italy, Romania, Russia and Greece.

“We will do our best to grow the (heated tobacco products) market through ethical management under which we provide reliable products and services putting science, verification and safety as our top priority,” he added.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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