SEOUL, Jan. 24 (Korea Bizwire) – Sales of cigarettes in South Korea dipped almost 4 percent in 2017 from a year earlier, due to the government-led anti-smoking campaign, and higher prices, data showed Wednesday.
South Korean smokers purchased 3.45 billion 20-cigarette packs last year, compared with the previous year’s 3.66 billion packs, according to data compiled by the finance ministry.
Starting in January 2015, South Korea increased the price of cigarettes by 80 percent, from 2,500 won (US$2.25) per pack to 4,500 won, in an effort to curb smoking.
The smoking rate for South Korean men aged 19 and older was 39.1 percent in 2016, down from 43.3 percent in 2014, according to government data. There was no government data on the smoking rate in 2015.
Separate data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development put the smoking rate of South Korean males aged 15 and older at 31 percent in 2015, the highest among 15 OECD countries surveyed. Japan came in second with 30 percent, followed by Italy with 25 percent.
In 2016, South Korea mandated tobacco companies to put graphic warnings on the upper part of both sides of cigarette packs in a move intended to reduce smoking.
Meanwhile, the government collected a total of 11.2 trillion won ($10.5 billion) of taxes from cigarette sales last year, down 9.2 percent from the previous year’s 12.4 trillion won, the data showed.