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Smokers to pick up bill for additional welfare spending in Korea

| March 6, 2013

The Korea Tobacco Association (KTA), a civic group that advocates smokers’ rights, has come out strongly against a government plan to raise cigarette taxes to secure funding for President Park Geun-hye’s welfare pledges, according to a story in The Korea Times.

A KTA spokesman was quoted as saying that price hikes were acceptable only when they were backed by convincing reasons. In the past, he added, the government had treated smokers as pushovers.

The dispute over cigarette prices arose after government officials, including outgoing Strategy and Finance Minister, Bahk Jae-wan, called for the welfare projects to be funded by higher cigarette tax income.

The retail price of a pack of local cigarettes such as This and Raison has gone from WON1,500 in 2005, the most recent year in which cigarette taxes were increased – to WON941 per pack, to WON2,500 now.

Meanwhile, JTI Korea urged the Park administration to adopt a flexible excise duty in proportion to the inflation rate. ‘The proposed tax hike should be predictable and systematic to convince smokers,’ the firm said in a press release.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said last month that the retail price of cigarettes should climb to WON5,000.

Category: Breaking News

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