Source Title: South Korea plans to impose a “health tax” on alcohol to extend healthy lifespan
Beijing, January 29 (Xinhua) according to South Korea’s “Central Daily”, South Korea’s Ministry of health and welfare released the “fifth national health promotion comprehensive plan” on the 27th, describing the direction and topics of the government’s health policy in the next 10 years. It includes the same “health tax” on alcoholic products as cigarettes. These plans aim to extend the healthy life span (the life span that can lead a healthy life) of Korean people from 70.4 years in 2018 to 73.3 years in 2030.
“In order to guide people to reduce alcohol consumption, the government will consider price control policies including health tax on alcohol products,” the Ministry of welfare said;. At the same time, the South Korean government also plans to expand the ban on alcohol advertisements from 7:00 to 22:00 local time from the currently applicable TV stations to various media such as Internet and digital broadcasting, and prohibit the printing of photos of advertising spokesmen on wine bottles, so as to strengthen the management of alcohol advertisements.
The main purpose of the government’s consideration of imposing a health tax on alcohol is to force people to reduce their consumption of alcohol by raising the price of alcohol products. This is also to ensure tax fairness. People whose health is harmed by excessive drinking need the national medical insurance to bear higher medical expenses, and some of the expenses need to be shared by the medical insurance paid by non drinkers, which is unfair.
According to the National Health Insurance Corporation of Korea, the annual social and economic costs caused by drinking are about 9.45 trillion won, much higher than smoking (7.1 trillion won) and obesity (6.7 trillion won).
The government plans to use the alcohol health tax to implement the policy of abstinence or to pay for the treatment of patients with excessive drinking. The government’s health tax on cigarettes is also for the same purpose. It aims to use this part of the tax for the treatment of patients with lung cancer and other diseases caused by smoking.
Jin Yuanzhi, a professor of economics at Jianguo University, said that in addition to cigarettes and alcohol, developed countries also levy the same tax on sugar, which is called “sin tax”;. That is to say, people who are close to these potential risk factors should bear the corresponding consequences through taxation. In the long run, South Korea should also fully introduce these tax items;.
It is reported that health tax is an additional tax besides consumption tax. In 2015, South Korea sharply increased its cigarette tax and health tax, resulting in a sharp rise in the price of a pack of cigarettes from 2500 won to 4500-5000 won, and the health tax of a pack of cigarettes is 841 won. If a health tax is imposed on alcoholic products according to similar standards, the price of Shaojiu and beer may rise by about 20% to 30% compared with the current level.
Although the starting point of this policy is to promote health, it is easy to cause people’s dissatisfaction by completely transferring the pressure to consumers.
Both Shaojiu and beer are typical “grass root wine” and are very sensitive to the price. The rising price will inevitably lead to public controversy. Kim Myung soo, a South Korean citizen, said: “after a day’s work, drinking with colleagues and friends is the only pleasure. Now there is an additional health tax, and ordinary people can’t even take a breath out of it. Drinking is really harmful to health, but the government also needs to consider the feelings of ordinary people when formulating policies.”;.
In addition, the Ministry of welfare of the Republic of Korea plans to raise the health tax on cigarettes, and intends to raise the price of cigarettes in the Republic of Korea to an average of 7.36 US dollars (8000 won) in OECD countries within 10 years.
Jin run, a professor of preventive medicine at Seoul University School of medicine, said, “the government must make it clear that the purpose of health tax is not to raise national taxes and expand financial sources, but to promote national health, so as to convince the public.”;.