E-Cigarettes Take Off After Tobacco Price Hike

E-Cigarettes Take Off After Tobacco Price Hike

The e-cigarette boom has hit South Korea.

Prompted by a near-doubling of tobacco prices—part of an effort to tackle South Korea’s high smoking rate–electronic cigarettes have become a hit among local smokers.

E-cigarette shops have popped up on many street corners and several major TV home-shopping channels have started selling the devices. According to the data from the Korea Customs Service, imports of e-cigarette products jumped nearly seven-fold to $52.2 billion during September-November compared with the same period in 2013.

In September, the government announced a plan to raise the price of a packet of cigarettes by 2,000 won, or about $2, as part of anti-smoking campaign. The measure, which took effect on Jan. 1, pushed up the average price of a packet of cigarettes to 4,500 won. The campaign also includes an expansion of smoking-free zones to all restaurants, bars and coffee shops.

Through the campaign, the government is hoping to reduce the country’s smoking rate–at 43.7% among adult men one of the highest in the world–to 29% by 2020.

A price rise for cigarettes of 500 won per pack was introduced in 2004. At that time, the smoking rate slipped to 50.3% in 2005 from 57.8% in 2004, according to the data from the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

Anti-smoking activists argue that more drastic measures should be adopted, including showing graphic warning images depicting the consequences of smoking on cigarette packets.

A 2014 report by the World Health Organization notes even though e-cigarettes may be less toxic than traditional tobacco, their effectiveness “as a method for quitting tobacco smoking is limited.”

Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/korearealtime/2015/01/08/e-cigarettes-take-off-after-tobacco-price-hike/