The Globalisation Strategies of Five Asian Tobacco Companies: A Comparative Analysis and Implications for Global Health Governance (2016)

Authors: Kelley Lee and Jappe Eckhardt


The global tobacco industry, from the 1960s to mid 1990s, saw consolidation and eventual domination by a small number of transnational tobacco companies (TTC). This paper draws together comparative analysis of five case studies in the special issue on ‘The Emergence of Asian Tobacco Companies: Implications for Global Health Governance.’ The cases suggest that tobacco industry globalisation is undergoing a new phase, beginning in the late 1990s, with the adoption of global business strategies by five Asian companies. The strategies were prompted foremost by external factors, notably market liberalisation, competition from TTCs and declining domestic markets. State protection and promotion enabled the industries in Japan, South Korea and China to rationalise their operations ahead of foreign market expansion. The TTM and TTL will likely remain domestic or perhaps regional companies, JTI and KT&G have achieved TTC status, and the CNTC is poised to dwarf all existing companies. This global expansion of Asian tobacco companies will increase competition which, in turn, will intensify marketing, exert downward price pressures along the global value chain, and encourage product innovation. Global tobacco control requires fuller understanding of these emerging changes and the regulatory challenges posed by ongoing globalisation.

Read more: Global Public Health