Tobacco cigarette imports into South Korea fell between 2013 and 2014 but, at the same time, electronic-cigarette imports rose sharply as smokers tried to kick their habit before the imposition of a huge, tax-induced price increase on January 1, according to a story in The Korea Herald citing customs office figures.
The Korea Customs Service (KCS) said that the value of cigarette imports had dropped by 14.4 percent between 2013 and 2014, from US$18.57 million to $15.90 million.
Volume imports were down by 15.4 percent from 973 tons to 823 tons.
Singapore was the source for 33.2 percent of Korea’s cigarette imports and Germany was the source of 21 percent; while Lithuania, Switzerland and Malaysia made up the other countries in the list of the top five suppliers.
Meanwhile, the value of electronic-cigarette imports increased by 342 percent year on year to $10.14 million.
At the same time, the volume of electronic-cigarette imports increased by 348.2 percent to 138 tons.
The customs office said that of the electronic cigarettes imported last year, 75.4 percent were brought into the country during the fourth quarter, when the government’s taxation plans were made public.
Ninety six percent of the electronic cigarettes imported into Korea originated in China.