Gov't mulls cigarette price hike to lower smoking rateUpdated: 2014-09-05 03:31:11 (KST)
Smokers in Korea will soon have to pay an extra 2 U.S. dollars for a pack of cigarettes.
This, as the government and the ruling Saenuri Party have come to an agreement on raising cigarette prices, in a bid to reduce the nation's current smoking rate.
The change is nothing more than a proposal right now, but smokers are already looking ahead.
"It is working as a motivating factor for me. I think I'll finally quit once the price goes up, both because of my health and the economic burden."
"It's a burden. I don't think I will be able to maintain the amount I smoke once the price goes up. It's just too much."
The 80 percent price hike on a pack of cigarettes would narrow the gap between Korea and the OECD average, which is 6 dollars and 40 cents.
More than 37 percent of Korean males over the age of 15 currently smoke.
That's the second highest rate among OECD member nations, behind only Greece.
The low cost of cigarettes in Korea has been pinpointed as a major reason for the high smoking rate.
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.
"The government says it's still fine tuning the details of the plan, but the price hike will almost certainly happen in stages, as a sudden increase would likely be met with backlash by smokers.
Shin Se-min, Arirang News.
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