Koreans Scrambling to Hoard Cigarettes Before Price Hike

There has been much controversy over smoking in Korea, and how to decrease the rate among members of Korean society. The government has decided to increase prices as of January 2015, leading many Koreans to panic. Over the past month, many tried to buy up as many cigarette packs as they can before the price hike, causing scuffles with convenience stores, as the stores try to take advantage of the high demand to limit the supply of cigarettes.

Article from SBS:

south korea scramble hoard cigarettes price hike

Many stores are “Not Selling Cigarettes,” leading to disputes. The shadow of the cigarette price hike


Disputes are arising in stores all around Korea as people anticipate the January 1, 2015 increases in cigarette prices. To stop the panic buying, convenience stores are limiting the supply of cigarettes, leading to the disputes.

Reporter An Seo-han has more.


On December 22, at 2:00 AM, in Mia-dong, Seoul, forty year old Mr. Kim enters a convenience store to buy cigarettes.

Mr. Kim was furious when the employee told him “the cigarettes are all sold out,” and suddenly punched him.

It will take two weeks for the employee who was hit twice by Mr. Kim to recover.

Fellow Employee: We are also limited in how many packs of cigarettes we can obtain, so we can’t sell a lot. We are going to restock [the cigarettes] today.

On December 15, forty seven year old Mr. Jung entered a convenience store in Suyu-dong, Seoul to buy cigarettes, and within thirty minutes, had attempted to use violence, causing a disturbance that led the police to be called.

After the government announced the cigarette price hike, major convenience stores have put limits on the packs of cigarettes customers can buy to stop the panic buying. However, this has led to a series of disputes.

Kim Kyu-seop, Smoker: Here, they won’t even give you one box of a domestic cigarette brand. And over there, they give you only one box. It seems like people are trying to hoard cigarettes.

From the convenience store’s perspective, after announcing the price hike, whether the government immediately moved to enforce it or not, they should have anticipated this chaos and come up with plans to mitigate it.

Because of the hasty policy announcement that had no alternative, the distrust between consumers and convenience stores is only deepening.

Comments from Naver :


The best revenge would be for everyone to quit smoking.

mnb2****[Responding to above]

Friggin’ funny keke Smoker bugs, I beg you to take revenge keke Smokers who are between a rock and a hard place keke Don’t smoke, and the non-smoking rate goes up, and the president has an achievement to add to her legacy. Smoke, and you will seethe at the government for collecting taxes. This is like being a spectator across a river, watching a fire on the other side keke. Nukingly funny, keke.


If you go to the convenience store now, they will say they have no cigarettes and are all out, but on Jan 1, it will be stocked up again keke.


They definitely need to change the packaging on cigarettes. So that people will stop scrambling to hoard them…


Even at the convenience store near my house, they are not selling cigarettes. That’s a good thing.


Rather than the customers, the business owners seem to be in the midst of panic buying.


To prevent hoarding in retail stores, for higher priced cigarettes change the package design and sell them. We should stamp out stores that sell cheaper priced cigarettes at prices 2,000 won more expensive than normal.


This chicken government is the worst.


I should give a round of applause to my ajeosshi [older man, “my husband” in this context]. He used to smoke two packs a day, and now whe visits the health clinic, and is in the midst of quitting through determinedly chewing gum. It’s been 7 weeks.


The cigarettes that disappeared will make a reappearance on Jan 1st. There won’t be any problems like panic buying if they sell the old models at the old prices and sell the new models at increased prices.


It’s the fault of this incompetent government.

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