The Health Ministry plans to raise cigarette prices, which have been fixed at about 2,500 won ($2.45) a pack depending on the brand for the past decade, in order to boost public health.
South Korea has the cheapest prices for cigarettes among OCED countries, along with China. Meanwhile, it has one of the highest smoking rates. The smoking rate for Korean adult males is 49 percent.
The World Health Organization advises nations which have signed its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that their tobacco tax should represent at least 70 percent of the retail price. Korea, which has signed the treaty, set its tax at only about 62 percent of retail prices of cigarettes.
The ministry said it plans to pass a revised bill by early next year, after negotiating with the Finance Ministry.