South Korea Increases Cigarette Prices

March 13th, 2015 00:00

South Korea's parliament has authorized an 80% increase in the price of cigarettes, a step directed at reducing consumption. An increase from 2,500 won ($2.25; £1.43) per package to 4,500 won from 1 January was part of the 2015 budget implemented late on Thursday.


South Korea features one of the greatest male smoking rates among OECD states at about 43.7%, based on the Health Ministry. The government expects that the increase will bring that down to around 29% by 2020.

The government is expecting to reduce the smoking rate among men, which is among the largest in the developed countries. Around 41% of South Korean men light up, based on 2012 figures received from the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development - greater than the 26% OECD average.

South Korea's entire smoking rate, at 23%, is as well larger than the OECD average of 21%. The last cigarette price increase took place in 2004 when it has raised by 500 won, forcing the smoking rate to fall by 15%, claimed Yonhap. The news agency also reported the government was considering releasing a pricing system pegging tobacco prices to other consumer prices.

Tobacco makers would be advised to print graphic health warnings on their products and several cigarette advertising would be prohibited, reports claimed.

South Korea features one of the smallest prices of cigarettes in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) group of countries and it has continued to be the same since 2004. The government has also gained authorization to link cigarette prices to consumer price increases to ensure that cigarette prices proceed with inflation increase. Former steps to attempt and reduce consumption have included prohibiting smoking up in public areas, images of the damages caused by smoking on packaging and a prohibit on tobacco advertisements in retail stores.

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