Korea: E-Cigs Gain as Combustibles Stagnate

    Photo: Dzmitry

    Sales of cigarettes in South Korea were flat from 2020 to 2021 but demand for electronic cigarettes rose amid the protracted pandemic, reports the Yonhap News Agency, citing data from the finance ministry.

    South Korean smokers purchased 3.59 billion 20-cigarette packs in 2021, similar to the number logged the previous year, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

    Sales of traditional cigarettes fell 2 percent on-year to 3.15 billion packs last year while those of heat-not-burn tobacco products rose 17.1 percent to 440 million packs.

    Compared with 2014, however, cigarette sales declined 17.7 percent last year—a development the government attributed to rising prices and anti-smoking campaigns.

    In January 2015, South Korea increased cigarette prices by 80 percent to KRW4,500 ($3.72). The next year, the government required tobacco companies to print graphic images depicting the harmful effects of smoking on the upper part of cigarette packs.

    As of 2020, the smoking rate among Korean men aged 19 or older dropped to a record low of 34 percent, down 1.7 percentage points from a year earlier, according to the health ministry.