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Stealth Use of Tobacco Products in South Korea: Comparison between 2018 and 2022
J Korean Soc Res Nicotine Tob 2023; 14(3): 69-78
Published online September 30, 2023
© 2023 The Korean Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco.

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

Department of Family Medicine, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
Correspondence to: *議고솉以
슱궛븰援 쓽怨쇰븰 꽌슱븘궛蹂묒썝 媛젙쓽븰怨
Received July 25, 2023; Revised September 5, 2023; Accepted September 13, 2023.
This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, dis-tribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Background: This study examined changes in the frequency of stealth use of tobacco products in the prohibited areas and locations where such use occurred between 2018 and 2022 in South Korea.
Methods: An online survey was conducted on 7,000 adults aged 20–69 years (2,300 men and 4,700 women) in 2018 and 8,000 adults (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 stealth use of tobacco products in prohibited areas within the previous month. To integrate these 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, most common location for stealth use was in cars (32.8%), followed by outdoor nonsmoking areas (32.3%). Additionally, ECs and HTPs were most secretly used in cars (46.8% and 43.3%, respectively), followed by indoors at home (46.7% and 41.8%, respectively). The stealth use of all three tobacco products significantly decreased in bars and restaurants.
Conclusion: The stealth use particularly decreased in places such as restaurants and bars where smoking is prohibited by law. More sophisticated indoor smoking policies are required to further reduce stealth use of tobacco products.
Keywords : Electronic cigarette; Heated tobacco product; Stealth use; Smoke-free area; Indoor smoking
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