Nearly Three Quarters Of Young Smokers Deterred By South Korean Cigarette Price Increase

Smoking habit data released in 2016 reports that despite recent price increases for a pack of cigarettes in South Korea, more than 20% of young smokers will continue smoking. To find out what those results mean, Korea FM reporter Chance Dorland spoke with University of Illinois at Chicago Health Policy Center director Dr. Frank Chaloupka & American Cancer Society economic & health policy research senior data analyst Qing Li. Find more info on the research cited in this report at http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2016/06/116_206738.html.

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Newly released data on smoking habits in South Korea says despite last year’s increase in the price of cigarettes more than 20% of young smokers will continue smoking out of nearly 7,000 100 teenage smokers surveyed by Yonsei University in 2013 20 percent of men and 25 percent of women said they were undeterred by the increase in South Korea’s average price of cigarettes by two thousand one per pack and to find out what these results mean I spoke with an economics and health policy professor who’s done years of research on the relationship between the price of cigarettes in smoking habits Frank DeLuca I’m an economist a distinguished professor of economics at the University of Illinois in Chicago and I direct the University’s Health Policy Center and I also direct a research program called tobacco nameks where we do research and the economics of tobacco and tobacco control including a lot of work on the economics with tobacco taxation what stood out for me was actually the opposite that the seventy-five percent of girls and 80 percent of boys would be affected by the price of cigarettes and I think that is if anything a bit more than what you see in other parts of the world so we know from the work that we’ve done we know from the work that others have done that young people are particularly sensitive to price increases two to three times more than adults are but you know for me to see that all you know the vast majority of kids are actually responses to prices and in Korea was was if anything surprising so I was kind of interested in the way that they spun the results to to highlight the fact that there were some kids that weren’t but to really ignore the fact that three or four times as many were actually quite responsive to the price we have done work like this in the US where we’ve asked kids about what what happened to their smoking behavior if you raise prices by 50 cents a pack or a dollar a pack and what you see is is that some kids respond to small price increases as the price increases get bigger and bigger you see more and more kids say that that would deter them from smoking but again to see 80% of kids 80% of boys or 75% of girls say that those high prices would keep them from smoking it’s actually quite a high number despite major cigarette price increases last year here in South Korea the Korea Times reports that researchers in charge of the study say the quote the impact of cigarette prices on smoking is insignificant considering the financial resources of teens and I asked professor chalupa to describe the most effective way to design price increases for cigarettes one of the things that we’ve really been emphasizing is the role of affordability so it’s not just price in absolute terms but it’s also really thinking about price as it relates to income so to the extent that that incomes are high to the extent that kids have a lot of disposable income cigarettes are relatively affordable and if you look at what was true in Korea before the tax increase last year cigarettes were actually among the most affordable in the region given relatively high incomes given relatively low prices so that the tax increase that happened there did help make cigarettes less affordable which is going to have an impact on consumption but you know at the end of the day they’re still relatively affordable if you looked at the price their relative to the price in every state in the u.s. prices would be cheaper in Korea than they are here so you know there’s there’s still a lot of room for increases in prices and then the second factor is is this idea of you know how big the price increases and part of what we’ve been trying to tease out is looking at these sort of big price increases versus or incremental changes in price that eventually add up to the same amount and what we see is that these sorts of big price increases they’re actually relatively effective you know I think that they are much more dramatic people see them they’re much more obvious when they go to the store to buy cigarettes and that that carries some additional shock value it’s harder for the industry to offset with its pricing strategies and what you end up seeing is that those tend to have a bigger impact so again you know I’d look at the data that came out from this study and to me it tells me that this has been a very effective policy the the big tax increase the near doubling of prices you know it has been an effective deterrent to keep you know 75 to 80 percent of kids from taking up smoking who might have otherwise done it but you know again the fact that there are still some kids that say the price isn’t affecting their decisions tells me that there’s room for further price increases I also spoke with another expert to discuss you smoking trends seen here in South Korea over the past decade and how the methods used by the Yonsei survey and other smoking data collection methods should influence how you interpret the results my name is Jim Lee and I’m the senior analyst in American Cancer Society economic and health policy Department I’m actually dum-dum 2005 and 2008 waves of the Global Youth tobacco survey and which is the developed by WH all and like a really nice data that’s um this is survey based and in school and we do found a lot of interesting stuff in the South Korean waves so first of all is really really high prevalence of smoking you can see like a 20 30 % of people they are smokers and also you found the age of the initiating is actually quite young you found in South Korean waves most people they were saying I start and initiated on my age 12 13 so it is a problem in South Korea of the smoking among teenagers I did read that paper and their specific question is actually they are a few like a choices asking you like at what particular price range will make you stop smoking so in that paper there was an option saying that no matter how the price changes I would not stop so I do that’s a very classic question to ask in like a tobacco user surveys among youth so in Global Youth tobacco survey in the South Korean waves they also asked similar questions they were asking you what price range we will stop smoking but in that like a survey in that survey there were only like a choices like two to three one thousand one three to four thousand four to five five and above so when they are choosing the last option is probably sometimes not because they’re really if you ask them what price will stop you from smoking they’re not gonna feel in infinite if they have a choice – it’s just that they among those options they put their attitude towards the very end so they define them as the persistent smokers it’s just like an attitude but as the author’s in that paper admit themselves as one of their limitations young people are not going to do what they are saying so it’s just an attitude they just express an attitude I’m chance Dorland for Korea FM dotnet

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