search area

National Tobacco
Control Center

Tobacco use in Korea

Prevalence of cigarette smoking

Korea has maintained a cigarette-dominated market where the sales volume of conventional cigarettes contributed more than 99% of the total sales of tobacco products. Therefore, tobacco use in Korea in general means conventional cigarette smoking.

Enforcement of strong tobacco control sin recent years has led to a sign if i cant decrease in the smoking rates of male adults, from over 60% in the 2001 to 38.1% in 2017.

Cigarette Smoking rate of adults (19 years old and older)

(unit : %)
Tobacco use in Korea
2001 2005 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
All 30.2 28.8 25.3 27.7 27.2 27.5 27.0 25.8 24.1 24.2 22.6 23.9 22.3
Male 60.9 51.6 45.0 47.7 46.9 48.3 47.3 43.7 42.1 43.1 39.4 40.7 38.1
Female 5.2 5.7 5.3 7.4 7.1 6.3 6.8 7.9 6.2 5.7 5.5 6.4 6.0
  • (Source) Annual Korea National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey (The Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Definition) Current smoking rate: the proportion of those who have smoked five packs of tobacco or more (100 cigarettes) during life and currently smoke cigarette. Age-standardized with estimated population in 2005
average, male, female graph pc-version average, male, female graph tablet-version average, male, female graph mobile-version
  • Source: Korea National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey
    (Ministry of Health and Welfare, Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Smoking among youth has also experienced significant reduction last 10 years.

However, recent stagnation in youth smoking and more importantly a sign of smoking increase among girls needs to be closely monitored.

Smoking rate of youth (13 – 18 years old)

(unit : %)
Smoking rate of the youth
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
All 12.8 13.3 12.8 12.8 12.1 12.1 11.4 9.7 9.2 7.8 6.3 6.4 6.7
Boy 16.0 17.4 16.8 17.4 16.6 17.2 16.3 14.4 14.0 11.9 9.6 9.5 9.4
Girl 9.2 8.8 8.2 7.6 7.1 6.5 5.9 4.6 4.0 3.2 2.7 3.1 3.7
  • (Source) Youth Health Behavior Online Survey (The Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology)
  • (Definition) Current smoking rate: the proportion of those who have smoked a day or longer within recent 30 days
average, boy, girl graph pc-version average, boy, girl graph tablet-version average, boy, girl graph mobile-version

Prevalence of e-cigarette use

Pre-emptive approaches to regulating novel tobacco products, including electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), in the same way as conventional cigarettes have curtailed the prevalence of male adults using e-cigarettes less than 5%.

E-cigarette use rate of adults (19 years old and older)

(unit : %)
Smoking rate of the youth
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
All 1.1 2.4 4.2 2.3 2.7
Male 2.0 4.4 7.1 4.2 4.4
Female 0.3 0.4 1.2 0.4 0.9
  • (Source) Annual Korea National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey (Ministry of Health and Welfare, Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Definition) Prevalence of current e-cigarette users: the proportion of those who have used e-cigarette in past 30 days. Age-standardized with estimated population in 2005
average, male, female graph pc-version average, male, female graph tablet-version average, male, female graph mobile-version

Despite of strong preventive measures, e-cigarette use among young population has been stagnated recently. What is worse is that the e-cigarette use rate among youth is similar to that of adult population.

E-cigarette use rate of youth (13 – 18 years old)

(unit : %)
Smoking rate of the youth
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
All 4.7 3.7 3.0 5.0 4.0 2.5 2.2 2.7
Boy 7.3 5.8 4.7 8.1 6.2 3.8 3.3 4.1
Girl 1.7 1.5 1.1 1.5 1.5 1.1 0.9 1.1
  • (Source) Youth Health Behavior Online Survey (Ministry of Health and Welfare, Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology)
  • (Definition) Current e-cigarette use rate: the proportion of those who have used e-cigarette in past 30 days
average, boy, girl graph pc-version average, boy, girl graph tablet-version average, boy, girl graph mobile-version