Report: Korean Smokers Would Pay 360% More Before Quitting

A new report found that Korean cigarette prices would have to increase by 360% before smokers would quit, rising to an average of ₩9,065 (USD $8.55) a pack rather than the current price of ₩2,500 (USD $2.36). South Korea has the lowest cigarette prices among the 22 OECD nations and one of the highest smoking rates, 44.3%, second only to Greece.

Netizens were split between agreeing that a sharp price increase would be worthwhile to help improve the nation’s health and protesting that such a move would be too painful for the average consumer.

Article from Munhwa Ilbo:

“If it costs 9065 won, I’m gonna quit smoking”.. 360% increase would be enough, according to survey of 800 male smokers by the Ministry of Health

According to survey results, Korean men say that they will quit smoking if cigarette prices increase to 9,065 won. The survey also showed that respondents would accept beer and soju price increases of 96.1 won and 80.3 won, respectively, in order to reduce societal harms such as drinking.

According to “Policy Effects of Tobacco and Alcohol Prices”, a report released by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs on November 20th, 800 male smokers across the country were surveyed and divided into social economic variables such as age, income, and education. According to the results of the regression analysis, the average price of cigarette would have to increase to 9,065 won before respondents would express the intent to quit smoking. This is 3.6 times greater than the current price (about 2,500 won).

While low-income level (bottom 25%) persons showed willingness to quit smoking when cigarette prices were at 8,124 won, high income persons (top 25%) said they would have a similar desire only when prices hit 10,113 won.


Meanwhile, according to the survey and regression analysis results of 1000 adult men and women across the country regarding alcohol consumption, people are willing to pay an additional 96.1 won for beer (low alcohol content) and 80.3 won for soju (high alcohol content) in order to reduce societal harms such as domestic violence.

Comments from Daum:


So they want to try raising the price of cigarette. Alright. I will call their bluff. Raise the price to 10,000 won a pack.


If they ever make cigarettes that expensive, no one will ever get old enough to die of lung cancer, their wife will just beat them to death.


Yep, 50,000 won a pack makes sense..


What year is it? Myung-bak Lee kept on fumbling around with the price for alcohol and cigarettes, but all they did was make plans ke ke lowering the taxes on the rich and raising taxes on the common man, get out of here ke ke ke we must be idiots to have made a government like this ke ke ke dig your hole even deeper


So if no one will start quitting until it hits 8,000 a pack, then it must not be a problem to raise it to 6,000… smokers will keep on spending, at least raise it to over 5,000


So the government stops collecting taxes on the powerful, then in order to make their budget they talk about the health of the people and jack up taxes on cigarettes, which are a comfort to citizens!!! You can compare the situation to other developed countries when you talk about raising the price, but then we should start spending the same amount as they do on national welfare!! These selfish bastards just think of how to make the situation better for themselves!! that’s what you get with a pro-Japanese government…


Sure, looking at when the price has gone up in the past, they would have to raise it to 10,000 won to get people to quit. Even in Southeast Asia, where the cost of living is low, they charge 3-4,000 a pack. Really, our cigarette prices are too low, jack them up some


And if suddenly everyone were to stop smoking, wouldn’t you know it, but they would start lowering the price of cigarettes^^


It looks like our government is about to become a drug dealer


Don’t sell them in packs, sell them in singles. 50,000 won for smoke


쿨보이님 다른댓글보기

“Father, I present to you a single box of good cigarettes hahaha yes, yes, it’s quite previous” that will be the future, when the best present to give to someone will be a box of cigarettes. I would love to see that day come


Yep, make it $100 a pack! then use that money to treat lung cancer patients


Don’t separate smokers and non-smokers, drinkers and non-drinkers and then slander and pick faults with them. If you say it’s a problem concerning the people’s health, then don’t sell them. There isn’t anything that can substitute alcohol and tobacco as stress relievers..
Everyone knows that the government collects the taxes even if it means selling things that aren’t good for people’s health. I’m not like the rich, I can’t even spend some a few million won to ride bicycles, pay the campsite fee, and buy hiking equipment. Stop it with the taxes. and public utility charges are going up.. I can’t live like this..


Comparing it to the OECD price? Cut the bullshit. You’ve got to compare the price to the minimum wage in those countries. The dimwits who made this study were trying to pull the wool over your eyes.. And how could they make people stop selling cigarettes when they get so much tax money from it? Itemize where they spend that tax money. After they use it to build smoking rooms they would have so much left over, ugh, makes me want to spit


Let’s make cigarettes 1,000,000 won a pack..We will see people flock around any smoker like clouds. We will see girls fussing around and saying that the guy is handsome if he smokes two cigarettes consecutively. Of course, their ideal man might be a smoker..

Share This Article
Help us maintain a vibrant and dynamic discussion section that is accessible and enjoyable to the majority of our readers. Please review our Comment Policy »
  • commander

    A tobacoo price hike is hard to defend in multiple regards.

    First, if smoking is so bad as anti smoking crusaders argue, why does the government continue to allow the production and sales of cigarattes?

    If the cause of public health promotion is suggested as the ground for any tobacoo price hikes, a complete ban on tobacoo is more persuasive to attain that aim.

    Second, although there is no available data, I think that working class has more smokers than the high class does.

    This means a rise in cigaratte prices will more heavily affect the poor class than the affluent.

    The claim that increased tax revenue will be used for the disadvantaged class sounds hollow as higher tobacoo prices effectively impose higher taxes on the less fortunate to spend for them.

    Third, some anti smoking advocates claim that making smokers kick the habit with the proposed pirce hikes will eventually contribute to smokers’ well being in the future.

    That’s too meddlesome against one’s right to determine one’s life.

    If the claim is defendable, why isnt such an approach applied to other cases, most notably liquor?

    That makes completely no sense.

    Any policymakers who considers hiking tobacoo prices will face tremendous backlash from smokers, freedom advocates who oppose paternalisitic intervention of a person’s health and life.

    • Boris

      I would prefer a ban, but I think suddenly imposing it on a nation of smokers will be pretty hard. First comes the tax hike, then the banning in public areas, these two stages will decrease the amount of smokers (and may prevent new smokers) and then when the number is low enough and there are enough e-cigs around, ban the tobacco cigs.

      Pretty much what is happening in Europe….

      The question I have some fun discussing is if Alcohol and tobacco smoking came out now rather than centuries prior, how would it be dealt with? I say this as certain smokers of a certain plant claim that their smoking is not as bad as Cigs or Alc.

      • commander

        Let’s imagine how things would go in that case.

        New products would be requried to go through medical examination for human health safety before securing approval for sale from a food and drug authority.

        Controversy would arise over whether to permit sales of those products when those items are ready to hit the shelves.

        Lobbies would vigorously launch a campaign for the permission, citing their clinical tests proving that any health hazards are negligible or acceptable.

        Civic groups would contest the studies, asserting that the slightest amount harmful elements should not be allowed.

        In the face of a stronger-than-expected opposotion, product firms would use their political connections to push for the approval of sales.

        Some powerful lawmakers, elected into parliment on the strength of massive political contributions from lobbies, would reluctantly agree to help give a greenlight under duress that refusal of cooperation would have consequences.

        Under the pressure from the legislators, the food and drug agency would give permission.

        In addition, some lawmakers would harbor a grim thought that those products would be of help in distracting the public attention away from politics.

        Lobbies would also launch a adverstisement blitz featuring some artists to lend glamor to its products.

        This is an imaginary scenario, but one that I think is quite feasible.

      • BSDetector

        I would prefer they ban something you like to indulge in; let’s see how willing you’ll be to accept it then.

  • bigmamat

    I wonder who conducted this survey and why? Is the government deciding it’s lucrative to start implementing “sin” taxes to boost revenue? Given that the legislature is discussing taxing the game industry by suggesting they have a health crisis caused by gaming certainly cigarettes would apply. Taxing cigarettes higher should just be part of the plan. In order to really change public opinion and marginalize smokers they will need to invest in anti smoking advertisements and begin banning smoke in public places. It will take a couple of decades but if they keep at it public opinion will turn and smoking will become unfashionable.

  • Guest

    cheapest pack of cigarettes you can get where i live is over $10

  • Guest23

    Raising the prices like this is a bit unreasonable for long-time smokers though, they can’t quit immediately, old habits die hard.

    And wondering if any news about that mafia head Cho Yang-Eun from the SK net?

    • RocKStaR

      After 10 years of smoking I quit cold turkey not one smoke for over a year now. Once you have decided you really want to quit, really decided it is relatively easy. If you are getting pressured into it you will not have the will required to succeed.

      • Guest23

        They get kind of get really defensive over their smoking habits though, and these type of taxes over these kind of reasons is hard to believe, just like that proposed tax hike on video game addiction and alcohol, they should try to get to the root of the problem, most of them are personal choice.

  • A lot of domestic violence in Korea?

  • Yaminah Jamison

    I alway think no matter how high the prices and taxes are on these types of items, many people will still buy them. I’m more suspicious on items that are dangerous but still legal than items that are illegal….

  • FYIADragoon

    They should do this in every country. Smoking is a disgusting habit without justification.

    • BSDetector

      People like you are disgusting, so willing to allow the government to lie and steal from the very people they’re supposed to serve.

      • FYIADragoon

        They’re not stealing anything. Smoking harms more than just the smoker. Never hear of secondhand smoke, nimrod? They are serving the non-braindead individuals of the populace by removing smokers from the picture.

        • BSDetector

          You keep on believing that’s why they’re doing this. Sheesh why are there so many gullible people like you in the world? You lemmings do more harm than a billion cigarettes; so thanks, thanks for retarding the species.

          • FYIADragoon

            Keep being mad, the truth hurts, I’m sure. I don’t care why they’re doing this, I only care about the end results. If less people suffer from secondhand smoke, that’s good. If actions were judged based on actual motivations every time then no politicians would be elected, no legislation would be passed, most businesses would be out of business, and no one would be following any of the major religions. Take the tinfoil hat off, and try using your head for once. Thanks.

          • BSDetector

            Suffer from second-hand smoke? You rode the really really short bus didn’t you? Second-hand smoke is twice filtered and unless you’re letting someone exhale directly into your gaping maw it doesn’t effect you anywhere near what you’re being lead to believe, car and factory emissions affect you more so why aren’t you out leading the charge against those?
            You’re right though, the end results are all that matter and since there’s really too many people on the planet to run it efficiently I think we should start gathering you crash test dummies up and ground you all into fertilizer, at least you’d be contributing back to the planet.

  • Joey

    A pack of cigarettes in the Netherlands is W10k. Plenty of people keep smoking (but it’s good revenue for the government).

    • Guest23

      Interesting, how effective are these taxes and how did the people respond?

      • Joey

        The effective tax is 57% (and you are not allowed to sell it for a lower or higher price). People are grumpy but still smoke, maybe just a bit less.

        • Guest23

          Well I kinda put that to luxury items kind of tax, wonder whether this will work in South Korea, probably gonna be a lot of rallies and calls for it to end though, they are really tough smokers to crack the habit, though not all.

  • BSDetector

    This measure is the result of greedy politicians who mismanage funds eyeing the tobacco cash cow their US counterparts are tapping into. They tax it claiming it’s to offset the costs of healthcare and how it’s to “save the children” but the money will never make to where they claim it’s going to go and end up being used to cover one of many shortfalls these clowns create or outright fund some junk project or pay off a bribe.

Personals @ chinaSMACK - Meet people, make friends, find lovers? Don't be so serious!»