Go Search Go Contents Go to bottom site map

Smokers oppose gov't plan to hike cigarette prices

2014/09/15 14:41

SEOUL, Sept. 15 (Yonhap) -- A group of smokers called on the government Monday to shelve its plan to sharply raise cigarette prices, saying it will increase the financial burden on low-income people.

Last week, the government announced it will push to raise the price of cigarettes by 2,000 won (US$1.92) per pack, an about 80 percent increase from the current average price of 2,500 won, starting next year. The plan requires parliamentary approval before it can go into effect.

"We oppose the (government's) push for a sharp increase in cigarette prices," members of "I Love Smoking," an on-line community of smokers, said in a news conference in front of the National Assembly in Seoul.

"Low-income people will have no choice but to bear the brunt of the planned jump in cigarette prices. The government should drop the plan and come up with a more acceptable solution."

   The smokers' group said that they will stage an on-line campaign to collect smokers' signatures in their bid to thwart the government plan.

Officials said that the price hike plan is aimed at cutting the country's high smoking rate, but critics claimed that the plan may be designed to increase tax revenue.

The smoking rate among the male population in South Korea hovers at around 44 percent, far above the average of 25 percent for the 34 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, with the government anticipating the price hike to bring down the rate by more than 10 percentage points.

Smokers hold a street rally in front of the National Assembly in protest against the government's plan to sharply hike the price of cigarettes on Sept. 15, 2014. (Yonhap) Smokers hold a street rally in front of the National Assembly in protest against the government's plan to sharply hike the price of cigarettes on Sept. 15, 2014. (Yonhap)

pbr@yna.co.kr

(END)

angloinfo.com