Cigarettes in a convenience store (Yonhap)
Sales of cigarettes in South Korea rose 4.1 percent on-year last year as smokers' purchases via duty-free channels were thwarted amid the pandemic, the finance ministry said Friday.
South Korean smokers purchased 3.59 billion 20-cigarette packs last year, compared with 3.45 billion packs the previous year, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
The rise in domestic sales came as tobacco sales at duty-free shops sharply fell due to low overseas travel amid the pandemic, which helped boost domestic sales, the ministry said.
Sales of cigarettes declined 17.7 percent last year, compared with 2014, a year before the country hiked prices of tobaccos.
The ministry said it indicates that the nation's anti-smoking campaign had an impact on curbing smoking.
The country increased the price of cigarettes by 80 percent in January 2015, from 2,500 won ($2) per pack to 4,500 won, in a move to reduce smoking.
The government mandated that tobacco companies place graphic images depicting the harmful effects of smoking on the upper part of cigarette packs in 2016.
Sales of traditional cigarettes gained 4.8 percent on-year to 3.21 billion packs last year. Those of heat-not-burn tobacco products rose 4.5 percent to 379 million packs.
Sales of vaporizer-based liquid electronic cigarettes plunged 97.6 percent to 400,000 pods as the government strongly advised people not to use liquid e-cigarettes, warning that such vaping products could cause serious lung illness or death.
As of 2019, the smoking rate by Korean men aged 19 or older reached a record low of 35.7 percent, according to health authorities. (Yonhap)