Social phenomena following the tobacco tax increase in South Korea: Lessons and policy implications
Eun W. Nam 2  
Hye L. Lee 3
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Department of Gerontal Health and Welfare, Pai Chai University, Daejeon, Republic of Korea
Department of Health Administration, Yonsei University, Wonju, Republic of Korea
Korea Human Resource Development Institute for Health and Welfare, Osong Health Technology Administration Complex, Cheongju-si, Republic of Korea
Korea Health Promotion Institute, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Eun W. Nam   

Department of Health Administration, Yonsei University, Wonju, Republic of Korea, 1, Yonseidae-gil, Wonju-si, Gangwon-do, 26493 Wonju, Republic of Korea
Publish date: 2018-05-30
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(May):24
This paper reviews the trial and error occurring before an increase in cigarette prices and the subsequent effects of this in South Korea. In addition, we introduce the social phenomena that occur as a result of an increase in tobacco tax, and propose effective strategies and principles that need to be taken into account before increasing cigarette prices.

Material and Methods:
We compared changes to smoking rates before and after the increase in cigarette prices. To investigate the changes that occurred before South Korea’s increase in tobacco tax, we first analysed the state of cigarette consumption and then the change in smoking rates.

The increase in cigarette prices caused an immediate backlash from smokers, particularly low-income groups and those claiming tax inequality. In particular, the sales of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) increased dramatically and the lower price marketing of tobacco companies led to short-term market share increases. As expected, smoking rates in South Korea decreased. However, because the price increase was not sufficient to encourage widespread smoking cessation, the decrease in smoking rates was not significant.

Because the primary objective of the cigarette pricing policy was not designed to promote public health, by reducing smoking rates, it received public criticism. To avoid public criticism, the government must emphasize and convince the public that the primary objective of increasing cigarette prices is to protect public health through a decline in smoking rates. Ideally, health authorities should play a leading role in formulating tobacco tax policy.

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