An average pack of cigarettes costs less in Korea than in any of the other 22 OECD nations surveyed, and almost six times cheaper than in Ireland, the most expensive nation for smokers, according to a report released Monday by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
Korea's smoking rate, on the other hand, was the second-highest among the OECD nations at over 44 percent. Greece was the only country with a higher rate of around 46 percent.
Health ministry officials said there is an urgent need to hike tobacco prices to lower the country's high smoking rate and the cost of this on the national health service.
Officials are also pushing ahead with legislation that would require tobacco makers to include off-putting images on the packs demonstrating the physical consequences of smoking. However, there is no move to raise prices at this time.