As of January 1st, the price of cigarettes in South Korea will jump by nearly double. The country is taking great pains to demolish the smoking epidemic there. In addition to the price hike, smoking in bars, restaurants, and cafes will be banned, and graphic decaying teeth warnings will be applied to packaging. Individuals that break the smoking ban will be fined 100,000 won ($90 US) and shop owners will be fined 5 million won ($4,550 US).
The jump in price has spurred a run on nearly every cigarette pack in the country before they double in price. At least two incidents of violence occurred as a result. One man got violent when told by convenience store staff that there was a limit on packs per customer. Another man hit a store manager twice in the face just for saying that they were sold out. Perhaps the nicotine withdrawal is already getting to people.
Meanwhile, it seems these regulations don’t really apply to electronic cigarettes (or they apply to a lesser degree). This has caused a massive surge in vaping device sales and could bode well for the e-cig market there. According to Korea’s biggest online shopping site, sales of e-cigs are 1,614 percent higher than they were this time last year.
Not just e-cigs, be all things smoking cessation and tobacco alternatives have been flying off the shelves. People want to quit before it gets a lot more expensive.
Smoking has been a big problem in South Korea. Around the world, the likelihood of being or becoming a smoker is significantly higher for individuals in the military. South Korea has a mandatory 2-year stay in its military for all male citizens. It’s during this time that many of them become smokers. So about 40% of the nation’s men smoke while only about 5% of its women do. They’re hoping to change that.
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