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Marital Status Influences Women’s Smoking Rates

Posted May. 05, 2008 08:15,   


Smoking rates of Korean women widely vary according to one’s marital status and age, according to a survey. In some cases, the difference was as wide as 14 times.

A team of researchers led by Cho Hong-joon, a family medicine professor at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, surveyed some 100,000 Korean men and women (57,246 females, 52,769 males) on their smoking patterns in 1999 and 2003. The survey showed that 2.5 percent of the married women were smokers, while 7.1 percent of the unmarried women and 9 percent of those who suffered the death of their spouses enjoyed smoking. The figure for divorced women rose drastically to 16 percent, according to the survey released Sunday.

On the contrary, smoking rates of men were not significantly different whether or not they were married. The rates for married men, unmarried men, those whose wives had died and the divorced were 62.8 percent, 67.3 percent, 75.8 percent and 77.3 percent, respectively, the survey found.

The rate of smoking among the women aged between 25 and 34 was the lowest at 1.4 percent. However, the rate of those aged 35 to 44 was 19.1 percent, 14 times higher than the former group.

The survey also found that Korean women lit cigarettes a lot less frequently compared to Japanese and American women. The report listed the smoking rates of Korean, Japanese, American women as 3.7 percent, 13 percent and 19 percent, each.

“The difference of smoking rates of Korean women based on the marital statue is likely attributable to the Korean culture,” Cho said.

Unlike women in foreign countries, Korean women tend to quit smoking after marriage for such reasons as fear of drawing social criticism. However, when women break from social restraint, for example, by divorce, they feel free to light cigarettes, thus raising smoking rates of their group, according to the professor.

He also added, “Taking the gap into consideration, anti-smoking policies should mainly target those whose smoking rates are high.”