Gov’t moving to ban small cigarette packs

SEOUL, Oct. 25 (Yonhap) — The government said Sunday it is moving to ban small cigarette packs from being sold in the market as part of an effort to discourage smoking.

The health ministry said it plans to revise the National Health Promotion Act that will prevent the sales and advertisement of packs with less than the standard 20 cigarettes.

Usually a pack has 20 cigarettes, but recently there have been smaller packs coming out in the market with 14 and sometimes 10 cigarettes.

British American Tobacco launched Dunhill Exotic in April 2014 with 14 cigarettes per pack, while Japan Tobacco Inc. followed with a slimmer version of its Camel brand.

Ministry officials said the latest move is aimed at discouraging smoking in general and in particular, preventing minors from buying cheaper cigarettes.

“Small cigarette packs seem to make it possible for minors to purchase them more easily, canceling out state policy to enhance public health,” a source said. Starting this year, the government raised taxes slapped on cigarettes by 2,000 won (US$1.70) per pack to prod people to quit.

He pointed out that Canada, the United States and many European countries have either banned smaller packs or plan to do so in the near future. Canada has had such a law since 1994, while the U.S. implemented such measures in 2010, with the European Union to make it mandatory for all packs to have at least more than 20 cigarettes starting in 2016.

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