Gov't mulls cigarette price hike to lower smoking rateUpdated: 2014-09-04 14:30:48 (KST)
The average cost for a pack of cigarettes in Korea currently stands at around 2 dollars and 50 cents, the lowest in the OECD, but smokers could soon find themselves paying around two dollars more.
The government and ruling Saenuri Party have come to an agreement on raising cigarette prices in a bid to reduce the nation's current smoking rate of 37.6 percent to 29 percent by the year 2020.
The price hike would narrow the gap between Korea and the OECD average, which is 6-dollars 40-cents.
The low cost of cigarettes in Korea has been blamed on Korea's high smoking rate, which is the second highest among the 34 OECD member nations, behind only Greece.
Making them more expensive, experts say, will have an effect, particularly on younger Koreans who are not economically independent.
A quarter of high school students admit to having used tobacco at least once in their lives.
Studies show that raising the price of cigarettes also has an effect on people who ARE economically independent.
The consensus among global researchers is that a 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes results in a 3 to 5 percent reduction in the smoking rate.
When the Korean government instituted a price hike of around 50 cents for a pack of cigarettes in 2004, the smoking rate dropped by 14 percent.
Shin Se-min, Arirang News.
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