The World Health Organization appears to be dictating tobacco taxation policy in a number of countries, including South Korea.
According to a story in the Korea Herald, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said yesterday that it planned to raise cigarette prices, which have been fixed at WON2,300-2,500 a pack for the past 10 years.
Later in the Herald piece, a Welfare Ministry spokesperson, Im Jong-gyu, was quoted as saying that the Finance Ministry understood why prices should be increased.
Meanwhile, the announcement of the proposed price increase was said to have come about two weeks after the country received a notice from the World Health Organization that Korea should raise cigarette prices by 50 percent.
The WHO advises countries that have signed its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that their tobacco tax should represent at least 70 percent of the retail price. But tobacco tax in Korea, which has signed the treaty, amounts to about 62 percent of the retail price of cigarettes.