COVID-19 caused a shift in the purchasing of cigarettes from abroad to local in 2020. Before the pandemic, tourists tended to bring premium tobacco products into the country from abroad where the prices were cheaper, while others carried duty free cigarettes beyond the regulated numbers.
COVID-19 reduced illicit trade in Taiwan, with volume sales recording strong double-digit decline in 2020 following growth in the previous year. The pandemic forced the closure of international borders, negatively impacting the movement of goods and illicit trade in Taiwan.
COVID-19 has also changed consumers’ smoking behaviour and delayed plans for cessation, indirectly benefiting sales of tobacco in Taiwan in 2020. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, visitors to smoking cessation clinics in some hospitals have dropped by more than 60% to 70%.
The Taiwanese authorities will continue to be active in discouraging the usage of tobacco products, therefore total volume sales are set to decline over the forecast period. With borders reopened and life returning to normal in terms of internal movements and more active social lives, retail volume sales of cigarettes are expected to decline, whilst illicit trade will record marginal growth.
Over the forecast period, female smokers are expected to continue to attract attention from tobacco companies. The negative perception of female smokers in Taiwan is changing with rising feminism and a female-friendly culture.
In order to stay relevant, tobacco companies will continue to rebrand products and try to create a hip and modern image through flavoured cigarettes. Taiwan Tobacco & Liquor Corporation, for instance, has launched several fruity cigarettes such as LaRose Green and is attempting to shake off the outdated brand image of Long Life and Gentle.
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This report originates from Passport, our Cigarettes research and analysis database.
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