(Source: Metro, Busan edition, 8 July 2010, p. 3.)
A quick newspaper report on Korean smoking rates that caught my eye.
Of course, I was a little disappointed that it discussed “average” rates for men and women, as these are essentially useless pieces of information given the huge diversity within each gender in Korea, and doubly so for women because of chronic underreporting. But that is to be expected for a free daily, and at least it takes a step in the right direction by mentioning that female teenagers tend to start smoking much earlier than males, which will hopefully result in some much-needed attention being given to this burgeoning group:
People Would Consider Quitting if Cigarettes Cost 8500 won a Packet
At 42.6%, Korea has the highest adult male smoking rate in the OECD
Although the general social trend is for people to stop smoking, Korea retains its position as the country with the highest adult male smoking rate in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
According to a survey of 3000 men and women over the age of 19 conducted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare last month, 42.6% of Korean men smoked in the first half of this year, a decrease of 0.5% from the second half of last year, and a break in continuous increases for the past 2 years from August 2008, when it was 40.4%. However, a large gap between this and the average OECD rate of 28.4% (2007) is apparent.
Of particular interest, the survey also revealed that compared to men, women are starting to smoke at earlier ages. Of those smokers under 29 surveyed, the average age both sexes started was 18.1, but the average age of women was 16.5 and that for men was 18.3, showing women started roughly 2 years earlier.
However, of non-smokers surveyed, 21.4% replied that they did once smoke, but 62% of those were successful in quitting on their first time, showing that it is becoming easier and the social norm to do so. Indeed, 59.4% of smokers replied that they intended to quit.
Accordingly, when asked what the most effective method of quitting would be, the most popular choice [James – among current smokers?] was “increasing the numbers of no-smoking zones” at 22.8%, followed by raising the price of cigarettes (18.7%), increasing penalties for smokers (18%), and launching public campaigns (16.3%). In particular, when asked “How much would the price of cigarettes have to be raised to be effective in making you quit?”, the average answer was 8510.8 won a packet, or 3-4 times higher than current prices.
Next week, after Part 4 is completed, I’ll translate this much longer Korean article that looks at female smoking more specifically.