A campaigner holds a pack of cigarettes in front of a stand of tobacco boxes revealing how price tags can hide consumer warning notices, at a campaign booth to mark the World No Tobacco Day in Seoul on May 31, 2012. (AFP / Jung Yeon-je)

Posts mislead on South Korean government’s scrapped plan to increase tobacco prices

Copyright AFP 2017-2021. All rights reserved.

Multiple Facebook posts shared in June 2021 claim South Korea has decided to raise the price of tobacco. The claim is misleading: the posts cited a now-scrapped government plan for a price hike; An official for South Koreas Ministry of Health and Welfare told AFP on June 11, 2021, that it had no plan to increase the price of tobacco.

The claim was shared here on Facebook on June 7, 2021. 

The post’s Korean-language caption reads: “Is this for real that they will raise the price for a pack of tobacco to 8,000 South Korean won? Insane. Let’s quit smoking, everyone.”

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, captured on June 10, 2021.

The claim was shared alongside a screenshot of a news report from South Korean news website Story News published on June 2, 2021.

The report is headlined: “The tobacco price would be increased soon”. It details a purported plan by the South Korean government to raise the tobacco price from the current 4,500 South Korean won (USD$4) to 8,000 South Korean won (USD$7.2) by 2030.

“The government’s plan to raise tobacco prices has caused controversy. The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced a new plan regarding public health, which includes a controversial price hike on tobacco by 2030,” reads the report in part, without elaborating when the ministry’s plan was announced. 

An identical claim was shared on Facebook here, here, here and here.

The claim is misleading: the posts cited a now-scrapped government plan. 

An official at South Korea's Ministry of Health and Welfare told AFP on June 11, 2021 the country has no plan to increase the price of tobacco.

He said: "We are not considering increasing the price of tobacco".

On January 28, 2021, the health ministry retracted plans to increase the price of tobacco from 4,500 won to about 8,000 won by 2030.

The scrapped plan can be seen here on the ministry’s website.

Following the U-turn, then-prime minister Chung Sye-kyun said the government did not intend to increase the price of tobacco.

“The government had never considered hiking the tobacco price. It also does not have a plan to do so in the future,” said Chung on January 28, 2021, on his verified Facebook page.