10% hike in cigarette prices to save 10 mil. lives

November 13, 2013


There are reliable studies that indicate that raising cigarette prices can lead to saving as many as 10 million lives, but Korea is doing little to adjust its pricing policies.

In its “Tobacco Control Issue Report,” the Korea Health Promotion foundation cited papers from the World Bank which said increasing cigarette prices by just 10 percent can prevent 10 million smoking-related deaths around the world.

The figure was derived from the assumption that raising prices would encourage more than 42 million people worldwide to quit smoking.

To make the increase in cigarette prices possible, the World Bank suggested the proportion of taxes on tobacco be increased from the current average of two-thirds of consumer prices to four-fifths.

Despite such possibilities, the foundation said, the Korean government has refrained from adjusting cigarette prices, primarily because of the increased burden it would place on low-income people and rising inflation.

In fact, taxes on cigarettes were increased by 409 won ($0.46) in 2004 and left alone over the past nine years while consumer prices rose by 20.7 percent.

Foundation officials said it has become clear that raising the price of cigarettes is the most effective way of discouraging smoking and immediate measures should be adopted to ensure that the health of the Korean population is enhanced.