20.1% of the adult population are current smokers

There are approximately 8.9 million current smokers in South Korea

34.7% of men are current smokers but only 5.5% of women

Quick links to detailed datasheets for South Korea
Country profile
Data sourced: 2024.   Page updated: 2024-04-08

Smoking in South Korea

Current smoking trends for the overall adult population in South Korea show a decrease from 2000 (35%) to 2015 (23%), with a projection to decrease further to 18% by 2025. For women there has been a downwards year by year trend in smoking prevalence, from 7% in 2000 to 6% in 2015, and with a projected drop to around 5.5% by 2025. For men the trend has also been downwards, but starting with a much higher prevalence of 64% being current smokers in 2000, 41% in 2015 and a projection to decrease further to around 31% by 2025. The WHO published prevalence trend estimates in tobacco smoking, as shown here, in their 2018 2nd edition report, which show slightly different smoking prevalence to the WHO country profiles. Data for the estimates were obtained from WHO databases. The trend lines are projections, not predictions, of future attainment. A projection indicates a likely endpoint if the country maintains its tobacco control efforts at the same level that it has implemented them to date. Therefore the impact of recent interventions could alter the expected endpoint shown in the projection. While the methods of estimation used in the first and second editions of the WHO report are the same, the volume of data available for the second edition is larger i.e. 200 more national surveys. The results presented are therefore more robust.



46762 people die every year due to tobacco smoking in South Korea.

9.2 million €

Market size of NRT.

NRT market size is estimated to be 9.2 million €.

Nicotine Vaping Devices

in South Korea

In South Korea, nicotine-containing e-cigarettes are classified as tobacco products, and their sale is prohibited to minors under 19 years. Packaging and advertisements have to include health warnings saying they contain any listed harmful substances. Nicotine-containing-e-cigarette adverts can only be featured a maximum of 10 times per magazine per year. Vaping is banned in public places and on public transport, but is allowed in designated smoking areas. E-cigarettes have a number of taxes and charges applied to them (national health promotion, tobacco consumption, local education, and individual consumption taxes) proportional to 1,799 won per ml (approx. $1.53 USD) of nicotine liquid. There is also a waste charge of 24 won/20 cartridges (approx. $0.02 USD) and a 10% Value Added Tax (VAT).

Heated Tobacco Products

in South Korea

Heated tobacco products are very popular in South Korea. The South Korean Government has taken a decision to increase heated tobacco product taxes to 89% of those levied on cigarettes.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy

in South Korea

NRT market size is estimated to be 9.2 million €. In South Korea it is legal to purchase nicotine without using NRT prescription. Advertising of NRT is allowed. You can buy NRT in Pharmacy.


in South Korea

Snus is allowed. Snus is legal to use.


in South Korea

Pouches are allowed.

The GSTHR database is updated regularly by our team. However, please be aware that the information we provide does not constitute legal advice. We cannot guarantee that the information is up to date or accurate, as the regulatory status of different product categories can change at short notice and with little publicity. If you wish to check the legal status of use or possession of any safer nicotine product in a specific country or region, you should verify the information independently. If you have reason to think that the information supplied on the GSTHR is inaccurate, please contact us with details and any references and we will rectify any errors.