The Korea Herald


Cigarette smoking among men in S. Korea hits record low

By Ock Hyun-ju

Published : Jan. 1, 2021 - 16:01

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(Yonhap) (Yonhap)
Cigarette smoking among men in South Korea hit a record low last year, while excessive drinking among them increased, data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency showed.

According to the annual Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, cigarette smoking among Korean men last year reached a low of 35.7 percent – the lowest prevalence recorded since 1998.

Use of tobacco products among Korean men has been on a decline for the past two decades -- from 66.3 percent in 1998 to 37.8 percent in 2008 and 36.7 percent in 2018 -- as more people seek to quit smoking due to health concerns.

For women, 6.7 percent smoked cigarettes in 2019, down from 7.5 percent the previous year.

Overall, smoking prevalence among women increased from 6.5 percent in 1998 to 7.4 percent in 2008 and 7.6 percent in 2018. Cigarette smoking among women in their 20s to 40s more than doubled during the period.

When it comes to alcohol, 60.8 percent of adults aged 19 or over drank alcohol at least once a month for a year – 73.4 percent for men and 48.4 percent for women. The figure hit a record high of 62.1 percent in 2017 and dropped to 60.6 percent in 2018.

Those who “excessively” drank alcohol at least once a month for a year in 2019 increased among men at 52.6, up from 50.8 percent from a year earlier, while 24.7 percent of women drank alcohol excessively last year, down from 26.9 percent the previous year.

By age groups, men in their 30s were most likely to drink excessively at 62 percent and women in their 20s at 44.1 percent.

Over a 10-year period, the excessive use of alcohol among men showed a gradual decrease from 56.7 percent in 2008 to 50.8 percent in 2018, while that rate among women rose from 22.3 percent in 2008 to 26.9 percent in 2018.

Men and women who drink more than seven and five glasses of alcohol, respectively, at a gathering more than once a month for the past year are considered to consume alcohol excessively.

The level of physical activity has fallen since 2014 among both women and men.

Some 52.6 percent of men and 42.7 percent of women, respectively, participated either in vigorous-intensity physical activities for more than one hour and 15 minutes or in moderate-intensity activities for more than two hours and 30 minutes every week.

On the back of such health habits, 33.8 percent of adults aged 19 or over were obese -- 41.8 percent for men and 25 percent for women. Some 21 percent of men and 23.1 percent of women aged 30 or older had high blood cholesterol, the survey showed.

The health and nutrition survey has been conducted on 10,000 people every year since 1998 using 500 indicators including prevalence of smoking and drinking, physical activity, eating habits and chronic illnesses.

By Ock Hyun-ju (