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Cigarettes nearly double in price

South Korea's tobacco tax hike has increased the price of cigarettes to about 4,500 won per pack.

SEOUL -- January's tobacco tax increase in South Korea, the first in a decade, has pushed up the price of Marlboro cigarettes by a record 2,000 won ($1.84) to 4,500 won, higher than major Japanese brand Mevius, which cost 430 yen ($3.55) in Japan. The significant price rise will severely hurt the pockets of many South Korean smokers.      

     An official from a South Korean union for tobacco consumers said the increase will see each smoker spend an extra 700,000 won a year. The group is critical of the raise, saying it is almost equivalent to the annual earned income tax paid by a worker on 45 million won per year.

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