SEOUL, Jan. 8 (Korea Bizwire) – Incheon International Airport’s tax-free cigarette booths are swarming with Korean tourists lining up to buy tax-free cigarettes these days.
With a pack of cigarettes in Korea now selling for more than 4,000 won (US$ 3.6), tax-free cigarettes have become a must-buy item on travelers’ shopping lists. However, this safe haven of smokers fleeing from the price hike is not likely to last for long. Tobacco companies are considering raising the price of cigarettes at tax-free stores in order to combat stockpiling and smuggling.
On January 1, a carton of ‘Esse’ cigarettes manufactured by KT&G (Korea Tobacco & Ginseng Corporation) sold for 45,000 won (US$ 40.9) in Korea. However, the same product sells for only US$18 at tax-free stores. This makes tax-free stores one of one of last resorts for Korean smokers trying to find cheap cigarettes. Smokers are now asking their friends traveling internationally to buy cartons of cigarettes for them.