Korea's Cigarette Imports Boost in 2015

March 10th, 2016 00:00

Korea's cigarette imports boosted in 2015 after contracting for four straight years in spite of the government initiatives to decrease cigarette use by greatly increasing prices, official data demonstrated these days.

Imports of cigarettes boosted by 117.3 % on-year to above US$34.56 million in 2015, with the volume also growing 128.1 % to 1,877 tons, the Korea Customs Service (KCS) stated. In 2014, the value of tobacco imports dropped by 14.4 % from the preceding year to approximately $15.9 million and the volume plunged 15.4 % to 823 tons.

tobacco korea

Imports also increased in 2011 when the country acquired $38.7 million worth of cigarettes from overseas totaling 1,945 tons. "The social trend by people to stop smoking that had been attaining momentum through the years seems to have backtracked in 2015," the KCS explained. "There was a moderate decrease in the second half of 2014 when the government declared it would increase prices; however this shrinkage was short-lived, with demand climbing in 2015."

The release of so-called pocket packages by tobacco companies that include only 14 cigarettes as opposed to the standard 20 also led to the increase in sales, it stated. These smaller packages cost 2,500-2,700 won (US$2.06-2.23), which is exactly the same price as a regular package of cigarettes before the government brought up prices by around 2,000 won starting last year. The customs service also explained 22.7 % of all imports were from Germany, accompanied by 15.1 % for Poland and 14.8 % for Lithuania.

The most recent data revealed that imports of e-cigarettes increased at a significantly sluggish pace of 33.3 % on-year worth $13.52 million, with about 196 tons being imported. Last year's numbers symbolize a 13-fold boost in three years, even though the pace of increase has fallen from the 342 % on-year growth in value attained in 2014. Of all e-cigarettes imported, 95.4 % were from China. Imports of liquid solutions utilized to simulate smoking went up by 21.2 % vis-a-vis the year before to approximately $5.37 million with 86 tons being imported last year. Approximately half of the solutions came from China, the KCS added.

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