SEOUL, June 27 (Korea Bizwire) – A major opposition lawmaker has introduced bills to raise taxes on heat-not-burn (HNB) cigarettes, amid concerns that the smoke-free tobacco emits harmful substances.
Rep. Kim Gwang-lim of the major opposition Liberty Korea Party presented a proposal earlier in the month that would slap the new products with the same rate of taxes as on ordinary tobacco. At present, electronic cigarettes are subject to lower tax rates.
Kim said HNB cigarettes should be categorized as conventional cigarettes as they use the same tobacco and emit vapor, which is similar to the harmful smoke released by traditional cigarettes.
An added 1,350 won (US$1.19) in a national health promotion fee, and local and special excise taxes would be imposed on each pack of HNB cigarettes once the bill is passed by the National Assembly, raising the price of iQOS Heets to over 6,000 won from the current 4,300 won per pack. Each iQOS charging case costs 120,000 won.
IQOS Heets made by Phillip Morris Korea are currently the only HNB cigarettes being sold in the country.
British American Tobacco (BAT Korea) has said it will begin selling Neostiks for BAT’s tobacco heating product, glo, in August.
KT&G Corp., South Korea’s largest tobacco manufacturer, also said it will release the smokeless cigarettes in September.
Phillip Morris Korea has said iQOS releases only about 10 percent of the toxic substances emitted by conventional cigarettes, noting iQOS heats the tobacco below 350 C without burning it and does not emit smoke containing harmful chemicals, which are released when the tobacco burns at temperatures over 600 C.
Critics, however, denounce HNB tobacco cigarette producers for promoting smoking through a new product even though the health risks of the products have not been truly verified. Those opposed to heated tobacco have claimed there is actually no big differences between the amount of hazardous materials contained in the smoke of conventional cigarettes and vapor from such products as iQOS vapor.