Korea Struggling Against Smoking

Published on December 15th, 2014 00:00

The government has declared about a major raise in cigarette prices to struggle cigarette smoking, which is a serious issue in Korea. The statement involved nonprice-associated antismoking programs just like stronger packaging rules and policies on advertisements of smoking products at retail shops.

The “thorough antismoking steps,” launched by Health and Welfare Minister Moon Hyung-pyo these days, are the most revolutionary however as they call for increasing cigarette prices to 4,500 Won from the present 2,500 Won through growing taxes and levies. Taking into consideration the 80 % boost, it may well be explained that the government has reported war on smoking consumption. The increase in taxes and therefore the price of cigarettes is long overdue, considering the substantial smoking rate and the lower cigarette prices in the country.

Korea has the greatest smoking rate for adult males, at 44 %, among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries, in comparison with an average of 25 % for the 34 member states. Low-cost cigarette prices are held responsible for the substantial smoking rate. The common price of a package of Korean cigarettes, at 2,500 Won, is considered the smallest in OECD. Throughout the world, the average price is about 7,000 Won and in countries as for instance Norway a package costs over 16,000 Won.

The World Health Organization (WHO), whose antismoking plan this year concentrates on driving governments to boost cigarette taxes, claims increasing taxes on cigarette is the strongest policy to decrease its use. It particularly implies that every signatory of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control raise the excise tax on smoking products by 50 %.

A WHO study revealed that a 10 % tax boost on tobacco prices lessens tobacco use by around 4 % in high-income countries and by close to 8 % in the majority of low- and middle-income countries.

Korean authorities stated the recommended price increase is likely to reduce sales of smoking products by 34 %. This prediction does not appear to be positive considering the fact that the last price rise in 2004, by 500 Won, decreased the smoking rate by 15 %. The government, hence, must drive more nonprice-related guidelines directed at decreasing the smoking rate and ensure the new tax profits are not intended to spending programs not related to antismoking and health programs.