Service-sector, sales workers have Korea’s highest smoking rate

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Nov 22, 2012 - 20:00
  • Updated : Nov 22, 2012 - 20:00
The smoking rate of young “white-collar” workers in the service and sales sectors was higher than that of “blue-collar” workers, a study showed Thursday.

According to the study, 62.6 percent of male workers aged 19 to 34 in the service and sales sector smoked, higher than workers in “crafts and machine operation” and “skilled agricultural, fishery, and forest workers” with 62.2 percent and 50.9 percent, respectively. The smoking rate of workers with managerial and professional positions was the lowest on the list of seven job categories with 48 percent.

The study, titled “The Associations Between Smoking and Occupational Categories,” was published in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health on Nov. 18.

Professor Kim Sung-roul of Soonchunhyang University in Korea led the study on 283 people aged 19 and older surveyed by the Ministry of Health and Welfare from 2008 to 2010.

By gender, the smoking rate of women in the sales and service sector was also the highest at 23 percent, followed by manual-task laborers and office workers with 16.7 and 11.7 percent, respectively.

“Globally, the smoking rate of blue-collar workers is higher than people with other jobs, regardless of the smokers’ age. However, we found that the smoking rate of young white-collar workers in Korea didn’t follow this common path,” Kim said.

“The government needs to step up efforts to curb the smoking rate in young workers in the sales and service sectors by promoting smoking-free programs in their workplaces,” he added.

The smoking rate of all males in Korea declined to 48.3 percent in 2010 from 65.7 percent in 1990, according to a separate report by the World Health Organization. The report showed that about 6.3 percent of Korean women smoke, which experts say may be an underestimation due to the fact that a number of women do not admit they smoke.

By Cho Chung-un (