Seoul, July 16 (Korea Bizwire) – Following a price hike and the expansion of non-smoking areas early this year, the smoking rate among adult males has dropped by six percent.
As the smoking rate decreased, the consumption of tobacco showed a drastic decline, but because of the higher prices, income from cigarettes increased.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare conducted a survey about a month ago, and the results show that the smoking rate among adult males was 35.0 percent. This is a 5.8 percent drop compared to the 40.8 percent rate last year. This means that 1 out of 7 smokers quit during the past year. Among non-smokers, 2 out of 3 answered that they quit smoking after the cigarette price hike.
The smoking rate was highest among those in their 30s at 40.5 percent, and those in their 50s showed the biggest decline. In the past year, the smoking rate among those in their 50s dropped 7.2 percent.
After the prices went up, 42.9 percent of adult males tried to quit smoking, and 23.5 percent succeeded in reducing their smoking. An additional 19.1 percent answered that they plan to quit in the next 6 months.
Alongside the no-smoking fever, the number of smokers seeking help at smoking clinics has doubled compared to last year.
The number of people who visited smoking clinics from January to June increased by 106.8 percent, for a total of 402,710. Treatment from medical facilities stared to be provided from February 25, and ever since, 115,584 smokers have sought treatment at 19,660 facilities.
The rise in the prices of cigarettes lead to a decreased smoking rate, but it also resulted in an increased number of vape pen (electronic cigarette) users as a balloon effect, with 5.1 percent of adult males and 0.7 percent of adult women reported as vape pen users. Considering that adult males who had experienced electronic cigarettes represented only 2 percent of the population in 2013, the numbers have at least doubled. Of particular note, 1 out of 8 men in their 20s were using vape pens (12.4%).
When queried about why they used vape pens, 40.6 percent of the respondents answered that they used them to “Help quit smoking”, but most of the time they proved to have no influence on quitting smoking. It was also reported that 77 percent of vape pen users were still smoking cigarettes as well.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare said, “The increase in cigarette prices, the legalization of warning images on the cigarette packs, and health insurance covering treatment for smoking had a decisive effect on the decreased smoking rate.” They also stated, “By airing antismoking advertisements on national television, we plan to boost the promotion of non-smoking, and be active on informing the public about the risks related to vape pen use”.
The health ministry will start a nationwide campaign at schools, military bases and companies to encourage citizens to quit smoking. They also plan to set regulations on new types of tobacco products such as vape pens, leaf tobacco, and hookah.
By Francine Jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)