October 20, 2016 08:17
Smoking is becoming a pastime for the rich after cigarette prices rose from W2,500 to W4,500 a pack last year (US$1=W1,124).
Households with an average monthly income under W3 million have reduced spending on cigarettes but those with more have increased it.
Statistics Korea said average monthly spending on cigarettes per household stood at W12,578 in the second quarter of this year, up 11 percent from the same quarter of last year. Spending on cigarettes rose, but those on low incomes smoke less.
Households with a monthly income of less than W1 million spent W7,751 on cigarettes in the second quarter, down 3.5 percent on-year.
Among households with a monthly income of W1 million to W2 million, spending dropped 5.3 percent, and among those with a monthly income of W2-3 million 0.9 percent.
But households who make W3-W4 million a month spent 22.7 percent more than last year, those earning W4-5 million 14.8 percent more and those making W5-6 million 10.3 percent. Among households earning W6 million or more spending on cigarettes grew 27.4 percent.
"The statistics clearly show that low-income earners cannot afford to buy cigarettes amid the economic slowdown and the price hike," said Hong Gi-yong at Incheon National University.
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