Pubdate: Fri, 12 November 1999
Source: Japan Times (Tokyo)
Copyright: © 1999 Japan Times
33.63 million Japanese smoke
HALF OF THOSE ARE HOOKED
Of the 33.63 million Japanese over 15 who smoke, 54 percent can be considered "tobacco-dependent," according to a government survey released Thursday.
The Health and Welfare Ministry survey, the first full-fledged study on smokers' behavior and attitudes, also showed that close to one in every five Japanese males aged 15-19 - legal minors in Japan - lights up.
In the past, such surveys have been conducted solely by Japan Tobacco Inc., a former government monopoly.
Some 14,000 people aged 15 and over were asked to fill in questionnaires in February and March through random sampling. The number of valid responses totaled 12,858.
The survey showed that 52.8 percent of all adult males aged 20 and over smoke. For women, the figure was 13.4 percent.
Classified by age, male smokers in their 30s registered the highest rate at 62.9 percent. Adult women under 40 also lit up quite often, with those in their 30s having the highest rate of 23.2 percent.
By gender, Japan's smoking population is estimated to be made up of 26.42 million males and 7.2 million females. Of this figure, 924,000 - 762,000 males and 162,000 females - are believed to be underage smokers.
The survey also checked for tobacco dependency, using questions based on standards set by the World Health Organization.
Results showed that 53.9 percent, or 18 million people, can be considered tobacco-de-pendent.
Examining the relationship between the age people begin smoking as a habit and dependency levels, the survey found that the younger one starts smoking, the higher the chances of becoming addicted a tendency also found in nicotine dependency,
Those who want to quit smoking totaled 24.8 percent among men and 34.9 percent among women.
Their reasons for wanting to quit varied, with personal health topping the list, followed by concerns about cost, family health and courtesy to other people.
Those who want to cut down on the amount they smoke came to 38.3 percent for males and 34.7 percent for females.
When asked where they get information related to smoking and its effects on health, 83.3 percent cited television and radio and 54 percent said newspapers. In contrast, only 11.2 percent said they learned about the demerits of smoking at school and 7.5 percent said they learned about the issue at special seminars.
This survey corresponded with the results of this year's study by Japan Tobacco, which put the number of male smokers at 54 percent, 1.2 percentage points down from the previous year, and female smokers at 14.5 percent, 1.2 points up from the previous year.
The ministry said it intends to use the results to formulate a more effective antismoking policy, and that it would have to make better use of the media to provide the public with information.
Japan Times, Tokyo