Korean men are smoking less than before. According to a survey of 3,000 people conducted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare in December, the smoking rate among men aged 19 and older was a record low 39.6 percent, down 3.5 percent from a year earlier.
The decrease is due to a drastic cut in tobacco consumption among male smokers in their 40s and 50s, the ministry said.
Smoking among women also decreased, from around 4 percent a year ago to 2.2 percent last year.
But the rate increased among men in their 20s and 30s, staying around the 40 to 50 percent range, while for women under the age of 29 it was a bit less than 6 percent.
The respondents picked raising the price of cigarettes as an effective means to reduce the rate, saying they would seriously consider quitting if the price was at least W8,000 per pack (US$1=W1,123).
Despite the decrease, Korea's rate is still higher than the OECD average, which is 27.3 percent for males over the age of 15.
The government aims to reduce the rate further with new measures such as raising cigarette prices and expanding smoke-free zones.