SEOUL, Nov. 6 (Korea Bizwire) – The smoking rate in South Korea rebounded last year, data showed Monday, despite the government’s effort to lower the rate with a hike in cigarette prices starting 2015.
According to the data compiled by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, 23.9 percent of South Koreans aged 19 and above smoked in 2016, up 1.3 percentage points from 22.6 percent posted a year earlier. The figure came to 40.7 percent for males and 6.4 percent for females.
The data covers those who have been consuming more than five packets of cigarettes over their lifetime, and are currently smoking.
South Korea’s smoking rate showed signs of decline shortly after the government levied a 2,000 won (US$1.79) tax per packet starting January 2015.
The smoking rate for males reached 39.4 percent for all of 2015, marking the first time for the figure to hover below 40 percent after the country started compiling the data in 1998.
The government said it plans to continue expanding the number of smoking-free zones and ban advertisements of tobacco products to curb the rising number of smokers in the country.
More South Koreans also became obese, the ministry’s data showed.
South Korea’s obesity rate reached 34.8 percent in 2016, up from 33.2 percent a year earlier. Around two out of five males and one out of four females were categorized as obese, the data showed.