Increase Taxes on Cigarettes To Fund Korea’s Health System
The Seoul Gyopo Guide Has Already Prescribed an Answer
Recently, The Korea Herald suggested a number of ways to curb smoking in Korea. Frankly, this is getting tiresome. There can be a public ban on smoking, ban on smoking on the street, tickets for those that litter, etc. The bottom line is that smoking will only stop when sales are curtailed in some manner. The way for that to occur? Higher prices through higher taxes. This should sound familiar to those that have read the Seoul Gyopo Guide in the past. It is the same solution suggested for each bottle of soju. A simple 100KRW/bottle of soju, with the entire proceeds being paid to the NPF would improve the finances of the National Pension Fund. A similar, 500 KRW/pack of cigarettes, with the proceeds being paid to the National Health Insurance Corporation (NHIC) of Korea would greatly help close the enormous gap that currently exists, and that will persist for the forseeable future.
Cigarettes Are Too Cheap in Korea, Anyways
In Korea, a pack of cigarettes costs 2,500 KRW. That is approximately $2.25 USD. A pack of cigarettes in the U.S. costs at least $5.00 a pack, and in New York City, a pack of cigarettes costs more than $10.00/pack. If a person really wants to smoke, then he/she will be able to find the extra 500 KRW/pack, which can be directly diverted to the NHIC.
No Politics Allowed
One extra benefit to this simple proposal: directly depositing the proceeds will prevent the political wrangling that always accompanies the use of tax proceeds. Observers of any political system in the world know that when there are extra funds available for government use, it gets wasted. A law which prevents this by directly moving all proceeds from the tobacco tax would prevent more needless political debate, whose outcome will change every time the parliament changes in Korea.