Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Korean Smokers Dip Below 50%

Anyone who knows the Korean workplace recognize that many Korean men are smokers...a new report published in Chosun Ilbo cites some change.

The number of men who smoke in what remains a comparative bastion of unfettered tobacco consumption has dwindled below 50 percent for the first time, a survey suggests. The Ministry of Health and Welfare said Tuesday a Gallup Korea poll it commissioned asked 751 adult men across Korea whether they smoked and heard that 49.2 percent of them did.
After peaking at 79.3 percent in 1980, the number steadily declined. By 2003 the proportion had fallen below 60 percent, to 56.7 percent, rising to 57.8 percent in September 2004 but declining more steeply afterwards to reach 52.3 percent last year.

The ministry attributes the decrease to continuously rising prices of cigarettes as well as more clinics helping smokers to quit and concerted anti-smoking campaigns. However, a survey of 774 women showed the proportion of smokers among them has started increasing again, reaching a 3.3 percent this year, up from last DecemberÂ’s 2.7 percent. In a September 2004 survey, the figure was estimated at 4.8 percent.

Ministry officials say 42,000 people die of smoking-related diseases in Korea every year, which results in social and economic costs of more than $10 billion. It aims to reduce the proportion of male smokers to 30 percent by 2010.

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