Number of people smoking increased by 1.3% in 2016The smoking rate in Korea rebounded last year, data showed Monday, despite the government’s effort to get people to stop by raising cigarette prices in 2015.
According to the data compiled by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, 23.9 percent of 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 gone through at least five packets of cigarettes in the course of their lives, and are currently smoking.
Noticeably, the smoking rate among teenagers has increased in recent years, the data showed, indicating that the unhealthy habit began during school years.
The smoking rate of male middle-school students came to 13.9 percent, up 4.1 percentage points from a year earlier, the data showed.
Korea’s smoking rate showed signs of decline shortly after the government began levying a 2,000 won ($1.79) tax per packet in January 2015.
The smoking rate for males reached 39.4 percent for all of 2015, marking the first time that the figure fell below the 40 percent mark after the country started compiling the data in 1998.
The government said it plans to continue expanding the number of no-smoking zones and to ban advertisements of tobacco products in order to discourage people from smoking.
More Koreans also became obese, the ministry’s data showed.
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.
The data further showed that only two out of five people walked for exercise, and only one out of six people exercised to build up muscle tone.
According to the data, women over 19 drank at least once a month, and 39.3 percent of people were heavy drinkers, with men consuming seven glasses and women consuming five glasses of soju more than once a month.