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ITC Korea National Report Waves 1 to 3 (2005-2010) November 2012


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National Report
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Korea Study Confirms Need For High Taxes on Cigarettes, Graphic Warnings on Packs, and Comprehensive Smokefree Laws

* The initial successes of tobacco control in the Republic of Korea have not been sustained in the past 6 years *

* Smoking related diseases kill more than 55,000 people each year in Korea*

* Smokers favor stronger tobacco control: Nearly 40% of smokers would approve of a complete ban on all tobacco products and 55% support plain packaging*

(Thursday November 15th, 2012, Seoul, Republic of Korea and Waterloo, Ontario, Canada): The International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project (the ITC Project) today revealed the results of a five-year study of the effectiveness of tobacco control policies in the Republic of Korea, where smoking related diseases kill more than 55,000 people each year. Although tobacco control legislation introduced between 1995 and 2005 had a dramatic effect in reducing smoking rates, the ITC Korea Survey (the Survey) found that progress has slowed in the past five years, with the diminishing impact on smokers of comparatively small, text-only warnings on cigarette packs, the increased affordability of cigarettes, and the lack of comprehensive smoke-free laws to reduce smoking in public places and protect smokers and non-smokers from secondhand smoke.                                                           

The findings are based upon three waves of the ITC Korea Survey, involving representative samples of smokers across Korea between 2005 and 2010.  The Republic of Korea ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2005 and prior to that had implemented several important tobacco control policies that established and expanded smoke-free zones, toughened anti-smoking campaigns and reduced tobacco industry marketing.  Additionally, Korea was one of the first countries to establish a national network of cessation clinic services in public health centers, to help smokers quit. However, since 2005 Korea has been slower to introduce further tobacco control legislation or price and tax increases on tobacco products. There is a strong association between tobacco control action and prevalence rates in Korea. From 1998 to 2007 - a period of strong tobacco control action in Korea - smoking prevalence among adult males dropped from 66 per cent in 1998 to 45 per cent in 2007. Since that time, tobacco control action slowed and smoking rates increased to 48 per cent in 2010. Similarly, female smoking rates declined from 6.5 per cent in 1998 to 5.3 per cent in 2007 but had increased to 6.3 per cent by 2010.