UPDATE : 2020.7.14 Tue 23:06
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Should we raise cigarette taxes to reduce smoking?

Smoking is one of the major killers in the world. Smoking is not only dangerous to your health but also to the health of people around you. Children who are constantly exposed to smoking could be potential cigarette consumers some day.


The World Health Organization(WHO) says that the reduction of death rate and prevention of diseases caused by cigarette smoking is an institutional matter. Hence, WHO is intensifying its campaign against smoking.


In line with the international effort to reduce smoking and tobacco use, alien cigarette companies have increased the price of cigarettes. According to the cigarette companies, cigarette production cost and cigarette taxes have increased gradually. Raising the prices of cigarettes is believed to be an effective way of reducing smoking, especially among young people. Some people support the policy to impose new cigarette taxes, claiming that doing so will have an adverse effect on tobacco sales.


The smoking rate in Korea stands at 40 percent, and this alarming rate is attributed to the low price of cigarettes here. Compared to Europe and the US, cigarettes here are much cheaper. This rate is way above the average of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development(OECD) member nations. South Korea hopes to bring its smoking rate down to the OECD level within the next few years. As part of efforts to discourage smoking, health officials suggested that cigarette prices must be increased by imposing more taxes.


However, smokers oppose the idea claiming that economically, cigarette price elasticity on demand is small. This means that raising the prices of cigarettes will have a small impact on smoking rate because smokers will continue to buy even at high prices. Many Korean economists think that introducing new taxes on cigarettes is an inefficient policy.


The Korea Tobacco and Ginseng(KT&G), Korea’s only cigarette manufacturer, said it currently has no plans of raising its cigarette prices.

Kim Sung-min  smduckmail@changwon.ac.kr

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