Smoking in South Korea
Smoking in South Korea is the leading cause of death in the country,1 with more than 40,000 people dying every year from smoking-related diseases.2 Smoking is common in restaurants and bars,3 nightclubs, noraebang, offices, Internet cafes and even some private hospitals. Posted signage indicating smoking ban legislation are commonly ignored. Stress is frequently cited as a reason to smoke.2
In survey conducted in 2000, 70-80% of male respondents claimed to be smokers.3 By 2007, the results of a subsequent survey found that while the male smoking rate had fallen to 50%, it still ranked the highest among OECD countries.2 During the same period, the smoking rate among women rose from 2 to 4%.2 Similarly, the rate at which adolescents, primarily boys, smoke has increased in recent years.2 Reports suggest that persistently high rates of smoking in the military contribute to the high incidence of male smoking, and negate the efficacy of anti-smoking measures, as many men start smoking during their mandatory 2-year military service.2
The Public Health Graduate School of Yonsei University completed a 13-year medical study on 1.2 million patients and found that about 73% of male smokers and 18% of female smokers contracted lung cancer.2 There is rising awareness of the health effects of tobacco.4
Since 2006 smoking has been banned inside government facilities and office buildings with a floor area of more than 1,000 m².2 The legislation does apply to smaller facilities or smoking in the immediate vicinity outside the buildings. Seoul instituted a ban on pedestrians smoking on streets which went into effect in August 2010.5 South Korea’s Health, Welfare and Family Affairs Ministry banned smoking in 16 kinds of public places in March 2011 in a bid to lower the male smoking rate from 47 percent to 20 percent. Those places included the nation’s largest buildings, hotels, schools, sports arenas, large restaurants, comic book stores, government buildings, train stations and airports.6
Local smoking etiquette is influenced by Confucianism. For instance, smokers generally refrain from, or seek permission before lighting up in the presence of social superiors;7 a social superior could be a boss, professor, parents, grandparents, or teacher.
- Robert Neff Korea and “The World No-Tobacco Day” June 1, 2010
- Gluck, Caroline (13 March 2002). "South Koreans try to quit smoking". BBC News. Retrieved 2011.
- Lee, Tee Jong (Dec 03, 2007). "Smoking habit dies hard in South Korea". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2011.
- Hudson, Gavin (December 20, 2008). "Anti Smoking Campaign Takes Off in South Korea". ecolocalizer. Retrieved 2011.
- "Tobacco in South Korea". euromonitor. Aug 2010. Retrieved 2011.
- Nerenberg, Jenara (Aug 3, 2010). "South Korea Braces for Sidewalk Smoking Ban". Fast Company.
- Martosko, David (01/11/2012). "South Korean anti-smoking activists ask Constitutional Court to ban all tobacco sales". dailycaller.com.
- Turnbull, James (2010-06-06). "The Gender Politics of Smoking in South Korea: Part 1". koreabridge.