SEJONG, Sales of cigarettes in South Korea edged down 0.2 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, data showed Friday, amid an anti-smoking campaign and higher prices.

South Korean smokers purchased 782.7 million 20-cigarette packs in the January-March period, compared with 783.9 million in the same period last year, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

The figures represent a 17 percent drop from the first quarter of 2014.

South Korea increased the price of cigarettes by 80 percent in January 2015, from 2,500 won (US$2) per pack to 4,500 won, in a move to curb smoking.

The South Korean government mandated that tobacco companies place graphic images depicting the harmful effects of smoking on the upper part of cigarette packs in 2016.

Meanwhile, sales of heat-not-burn tobacco products jumped 33.6 percent on-year to 92 million packs in the first quarter, accounting for 11.8 percent of the country's total tobacco market, compared with 8.8 percent a year earlier.

Source: Yonhap news Agency