Smoking Rates Continue To Plummet Thanks To Rapid Growth Of Vaping


New data from Korea indicates their push to curb cigarette smoking has been quite successful, as vaping becomes more popular

Smoking continues to kill more people each year than anything else that could be easily prevented. Given this fact, it should come as no surprise many smokers consider quitting to be one the hardest things you can possibly do. Despite the horrible things it can do to the health of you and your family, countless individuals still smoke every day. That’s why it remains so critical we have adequate tools for fighting this ongoing epidemic. Vaping has proven to be one of the most useful of any tool, with many health professionals excited about the chances e-cigarettes could end the smoking epidemic once and for all. In fact, a recent report concluded the smoking rate in Korea has dropped over 20% since 2014 while vaping continues to become more popular.

Before their 2014 law change, Korea had been slow to prohibit public smoking. But over the last several years, the perception of smoking has changed so dramatically it has inspired other nations around the world. Bolstering these gains further has been the development of more effective and satisfying vaporizers, making it much easier for smokers to find a product that works for them. But how much of a difference did just four years really make?

Dropping Rates

The recent article published on Korean business site, The Investor, reported that sales of cigarettes had fallen nearly 2% over the course of 2018. The article claimed drops in smoking rate had been ushered in by a government-led push to prevent smoking. This included requiring graphic images on packs of cigarettes, as well as significantly increasing the cost, nearly doubling price from 2,500 won to 4,500 won per pack. When these policies were first made into law in 2014, many were skeptical that they would have the desired effect, but less than five years later Korea has already cut the number of smokers in their country by more than 20%.

Figures indicate only 3.14 billion packs of cigarettes were sold in Korea last year, a drop of nearly 9%. At the same time, sales of vapes increased from 79 million in 2017 to a whopping 332 million in 2018. Even more impressively, vaping only accounted for about 2.2% of the total tobacco market in 2017, while 2018 saw this figure jump to nearly 10% (9.6%). It’s clear that vaping is currently taking over the Korean market, proving once again that vaping is an invaluable tool in the fight against tobacco.

Evidence On E-Cigarettes

Given the research we have on vaping, it should come as no surprise that it’s helping so many people quit smoking in Korea. After all, a report published by researchers at the University of Louisville concluded that not only is vaping an effective smoking cessation tool. But it’s actually more likely to lead to a successful quit attempt than anything else, even beating out prescription drugs like Chantix. Another critical thing to remember about vaping is the so-called teenage vaping “epidemic” has been proven to be quite overblown. A poll of over 60,000 students concluded that only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens are ever picking up a vaporizer on a regular basis. This means a lot fewer are ever turning to cigarettes.

Further than the social impact of vaping, we have a mountain of evidence proving the harm reduction value of e-cigarettes. Back in 2015, we got our first study indicating that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, but it certainly didn’t stop there. In fact, as recently as last month a study was published which concluded vapor contains about 93% fewer toxicants than cigarette smoke. But the most impressive stat is probably the relative cancer risk of a vaper compared with a demographically similar smoker. Research published in the Journal of Aerosol Sciences concluded that the excess lifetime cancer risk of a smoker is around 57,000 times higher than a vaper.


It’s fantastic to see nations such as Korea and Japan, who traditionally had robust smoker communities, finally start helping their citizens end their dependence on tobacco. It’s even better to see them use vaporizers to help facilitate these goals. Vaping is still incredibly misunderstood, with some polls finding that only around 13% of adults actually understand that vaping is so much safer than smoking. But when places like Korea experience such success with vaping, it means many more people finally realize the harm reduction and smoking cessation value of vaping. It also makes it much easier to defend the utility of vaping with figures this clear. If we ever want to end the tobacco epidemic once and for all, we simply must support and spread positive information about vaping.

Are you surprised at how fast things are changing in Korea? What’s the most important thing to remember when trying to quit using vapes? Why do you think vaping continues to have such a bad reputation with the general public? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.

Jimmy, lover, blogger, vaper and ex-smoker. I’ve been blogging about and supporting Vaping since 2009. They changed my life and I think history will show them as one of the most significant public health invention of the 21st century.

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