It has turned out that health authorities have excluded single users of e-cigarettes from their smoking rate statistics.
According to the data submitted by Congressman Bae Joon-Young's office from the Ministry of Health and Welfare on the 27th, the Ministry of Health and Welfare is investigating the usage rate of regular cigarettes (cigarettes), e-liquid and cigarette-type e-cigarettes, but when calculating the smoking rate statistics, they didn't include e-cigarette users'
Korea Duty-Free News(KDFN) reported that since February, the National Health Insurance Corporation has determined that single e-cigarette use is 'no smoking' on the regular health checkup results and pointed out that this policy may cause some problems such as smoking rate calculation, related tax imposition, smoking fines, and youth smoking.
KDFN has pointed out several times that government authorities treat e-cigarettes like regular cigarettes in many respects. But it is contradictory to judge e-cigarette vaping as smoking cessation.
Smoking rates are the fundamental basis for determining national smoking cessation policies. It is one of the basics in deciding whether to implement, scale, and scope anti-smoking procedures and methods in many areas, such as whether to increase cigarette prices due to a decrease or increase in smoking rates, taxes, anti-smoking support budget, and youth anti-smoking.
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, in 2021, the total smoking rate for those aged 19 and older was 19.3%, a decrease of 6.5 percentage points over nine years compared to 2012. During this period, male smoking rates ranged from 43.7% to 31.4% and females from 7.9% to 6.9%. Comparing the smoking rate in 2021 (19.3%) with that of 2020 (20.6%) a year ago, it decreased by 1.3 percentage points.
In the ‘2019 Community Health Survey' announced by the Korea National Institute of Health in May 2020, the male smoking rate of e-cigarettes was 6.7%. According to a report titled 'Smoking Behavior Changes and Risk Management by Insurance Companies' by the Insurance Research Institute in January 2020, the adult e-cigarette use rate was 4.3% in 2018.
Even considering the ratio of 'Single use' and 'Mixed use' (smoking with regular cigarettes), It is not reasonable to conclude that 'the smoking rate has decreased in recent years.' Instead, it is not too much to say that the smoking rate in 2021 has risen compared to the previous year.
According to the "2022 Tobacco Market Trends" announced by the Ministry of Economy and Finance last month, cigarette sales in 2022 were 3.63 billion packs, up 5.3% from 3.45 billion boxes sold in 2019, before the coronavirus. Sales of cigarette-type cigarettes, which are regular cigarettes, decreased by 1.8%, but sales of cigarette-type e-cigarettes increased by a whopping 21.3%. E-cigarettes have driven the overall increase in cigarette sales, and this shows that smokers have been rapidly moving from regular to cigarette-type electronic cigarettes in recent years.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare said, "We are aware of the harmful effects of e-cigarettes and plan to review them so that single users of e-cigarettes can belong to smokers in consideration of related research results from the National Cancer Center in the future."
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Economy and Finance made it clear that it has no intention of changing the current taxation system, saying, "Imposition of individual consumption tax on e-cigarettes serves as a corrective taxation in consideration of the impact on public health" in response to inquiries about cigarette prices, taxes, and related insurance premiums.
By_BK Min, KDFN email@example.com