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(LEAD) Parliament endorses tax hike for HNB e-cigarettes

2017/11/09 17:07

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(ATTN: ADDS reaction from tobacco makers at bottom)

SEOUL, Nov. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's parliament passed a bill Thursday to raise the tax on heat-not-burn (HNB) e-cigarette products amid a lingering dispute over whether they should be treated differently from conventional cigarettes.

The revision bill calls for increasing the individual consumption tax rate for HNB tobacco products -- such as Phillip Morris' iQOS and British American Tobacco's Glo -- to 90 percent of the tax levied on ordinary products.

Of the 239 lawmakers present for the vote on the bill, 230 voted for it, with one disapproval and eight abstentions.

With the passage of the bill, the consumption tax for HNB tobacco products is to rise to 529 won (US$0.47) from the current 126 won.

Currently, Phillip Morris' iQOS is sold at 4,300 won ($3.80) per pack in Korea. Ordinary cigarettes are sold at 4,500 won for a pack, which includes 3,323.4 won tax.

The companies said they will decide whether to raise the prices based on the increase rate of other taxes -- such as the tobacco consumption tax and the fee used to fund national health promotion -- on their products. The hike bill for these taxes is still pending at the parliament.

Lawmakers attend a plenary session of the National Assembly at the parliament's main chamber in Seoul on Nov. 9, 2017. (Yonhap) Lawmakers attend a plenary session of the National Assembly at the parliament's main chamber in Seoul on Nov. 9, 2017. (Yonhap)

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