SEOUL, April 11 (Korea Bizwire) — Smoking is more common among South Korean adults and teens on the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder, according to a report from the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs.
While the smoking rate among men was 42 percent from 2013 through 2015, there were considerable differences when looking at groups based on income level, educational attainment and white or blue collar employment.
Smoking rates were 37.1 percent, 42 percent, 43.5 percent and 44.9 percent for groups with low, mid-low, mid-high and high incomes, respectively. Looking at educational attainment among men ages 30 through 64, those with a maximum of an elementary school education had smoking rates 22.6 percentage points higher than holders of at least a technical college degree. Furthermore, men holding down blue collar jobs requiring physical labor had a smoking rate that was twice as high (52.5 percent) as that of white-collar professionals working in offices.
These smoking patterns across socioeconomic groupings were also observed among women.
The report stated, “The disparity in smoking rates is not a problem with a particular group that is either low-income or has poor educational attainment, but rather is a phenomenon that appears in each stratum depending on socioeconomic positioning in the entire population.”
Adolescent smoking was also found to differ based on parental socioeconomic standing.
While the 2016 male teen smoking rate – 12 to 18 years old – was 9.6 percent, adolescents hailing from low-income households had a higher 17.2 percent smoking rate. In comparison, the high- and mid-income families had teen smoking rates of 7.3 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively.
Smoking rates were also higher for adolescents with a father or mother with a middle school education or less.