Smoking rate for women hits record high: Report

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Smoking rate for women hits record high: Report

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said yesterday that women in their 20s and men in their 30s are the least health-conscious Koreans, according to a national health survey. The young women and men smoke and drink at a rate that may be linked to stress and their jobs.

“Many women in 20s and men in 30s have just started working, fresh out of college. And a higher drinking and smoking rate is linked with Korea’s corporate culture,” said an official of the health survey division at the Health Ministry.

In Korea’s hierarchical corporate culture, young employees are expected to heed senior workers’ insistence on drinking at office get-togethers.

The findings are part of the 2013 national health survey jointly conducted by the Health Ministry and the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The comprehensive survey polled 3,840 households of all ages nationwide.

The smoking rate for women hit a record high of 7.9 percent last year, an increase from 6.5 percent in 1998. The number of women smokers in their 20s was 13.6 percent. Twentysomething women with insufficient nutrition accounted for 24.8 percent, the highest among all age groups.

The number of women who drink well above moderate amounts increased to 6 percent last year from 5.4 percent in 2009. The high-risk drinking rate for women was 3.4 percent in 2005. When it comes to women in their 20s, the rate shoots up to 9.2 percent.

The survey considered a respondent to be a high-risk drinker if he or she imbibed more than twice a week with one session involving more than five drinks. The men’s drinking rate stayed flat with 21.8 percent of respondents saying they drank a lot last year. The rate was 21.4 percent in 2009 and 19.9 percent in 2005. Once again, men in their 30s had the highest high-risk drinking rate of 25.4 percent.

On the other hand, the number of men who smoked last year dropped dramatically from 66.3 percent in 1998 to 43.7 percent, apparently thanks to greater health consciousness, the government’s smoking-bans and heavier fines for smoking in no-smoking zones.

The prevalence of high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure steadily grew. In particular, the number of women over 30 with high cholesterol hit a record high of 14.4 percent.


BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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