Korean adult males are smoking less than before.
According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare in December, the smoking rate among Korean men aged 19 and older was at 39.6 percent, which is a 3.5 percent drop from a year earlier.
This is the lowest rate for the survey group, which consisted of 3-thousand respondents, and the ministry adds the decrease is due to a drastic cut in tobacco consumption among male smokers in their 40s and 50s.
[Interview : Yang Dong-gyoh, Health ministry official] "The smoking rate among 40-year-old males dropped from 50 percent to 43.4 percent, and 50-year-old male smokers also dropped from 41-and-a-half percent to the low 30s from early 2010."
The tobacco consumption rate among Korean women also decreased, from around 4 percent a year ago to 2.2 percent in December.
But among men in their 20s and 30s, the smoking rate increased, staying around the 40 to 50 percent range, and for women under the age of 29, the consumption rate was at bit less than 6 percent.
The survey respondents picked raising the price of cigarettes as an effective means to curve down smoking, and added if the price was at or above 8-thousand won, roughly seven US dollars, they would seriously consider quitting.
"We will need to consult with the National Assembly to agree on an acceptable price hike of cigarettes."
The result of the survey showed that while the overall smoking rate has decreased, Korea still ranks high among the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development member countries, whose average rate stands at 27.3 percent for males over the age of 15.
And the Korean government plans to lower the rate even more with new measures such as raising cigarette prices and enlarging smoke free zones.
Kang Seok-ho, Arirang News.