Faced with the growing dangers of tobacco addiction, the South Korean government adopted harsh measures in 2015. The effect was immediate and four years onwards, the results have been quite positive, indeed.
Prior to these tobacco reforms, South Korea ranked 13th in the world for countries with the highest number of smokers. South Korean health authorities had been reluctant to adopt anti-tobacco measures, but following the introduction of a tobacco tax in 2015, the percentage of male smokers in the country dropped below 40%, the lowest since 1998.
In 2018, tobacco sales dropped by 2%, and in only 4 years, the number of smokers in the country dropped by 20%. Vaping devices were cited as one of the reasons for this drop: while the vaping market only represented 2.2% of the economy in 2017, this number jumped to 9.6% in 2018.
Strict government measures prove to be effective
Korean Association on Smoking or Health (KASH), founded in 1986, is an association devoted to fighting tobacco addiction. The group is very powerful in South Korea … but it is also worth noting that in South Korea there are no pro-tobacco interest groups (like tobacconists).
To reduce the number of smokers in South Korea, the government increased the price of a pack of cigarettes by almost double, from $2.20 to $4.20. Tobacco companies have also been asked to discuss prevention campaigns, and smoking is banned in public spaces (even smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk can now incur a fine of up to 1,000 Euros). In certain cities throughout the country, anti-smoking alarms have been installed to prevent people from smoking in public spaces. But while these radical and effective measures have had a major effect on tobacco addiction in South Korea, they would be much harder to implement in France.