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Stealth use of tobacco products in South Korea: Comparison between 2018 and 2022
J Korean Soc Res Nicotine Tob
Published online September 13, 2023
© 2023 The Korean Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco.

Ji Eun Lee 1, Jung Ah Lee 1, Hong-Jun Cho 1, *

Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine
Correspondence to: Hong-Jun Cho, 88 Olympic-ro 43-gil, Songpa-gu, 슦렪踰덊샇: 05505
Background: This study examined the changes in the frequency of stealth use of tobacco products in prohibited areas and the locations where such use occurred between 2018 and 2022 in South Korea. Method: An online survey was conducted on 7,000 adults aged 20 to 69 years old (2300 men and 4,700 women) in 2018 and 8,000 (4,000 men and 4,000 women) in 2022. We investigated the frequency of use for conventional cigarettes (CCs), e-cigarettes (ECs), and heated tobacco products (HTPs), and the stealth use of tobacco products in prohibited areas within the past month. To integrate two data, we applied weighted statistical analysis considering age, gender, and region using resident registration population data. Results: Between 2018 and 2022, the frequency of stealth use showed a decreasing trend for all three tobacco products: CCs (69.5% to 64.3%), ECs (83.3% to 79.6%), and HTPs (79.3% to 75.3%). However, the rates remained high, particularly for ECs and HTPs. In the 2022 survey, for CCs, the most common location for stealth use was in cars (32.8%), followed by outdoor non-smoking areas (32.3%). ECs and HTPs were also used the most secretly in cars (46.8%; 43.3%), followed by indoors at home (46.7%; 41.8%). There was a significant decrease in stealth use of all three tobacco products in bars and restaurants. Conclusion: Stealth use particularly decreased in places like restaurants and bars where smoking is prohibited by law. More sophisticated indoor smoking policies are needed to further reduce stealth use of tobacco products.
Keywords : Electronic cigarette, Heated tobacco product, Stealth use, Smoke-free area, indoor smoking