The smoking rate among adults in Japan declined for the seventh straight year to an all-time low of 30.9 percent in May, down 1.8 percentage points from the previous year, according to a survey conducted by Japan Tobacco Inc.
The proportion of male smokers fell below the 50 percent line for the first time to 49.1 percent, down 2.9 points from the year before. The figure for women dropped to 14 percent, down 0.7 point.
Based on the figures, Japan Tobacco estimates the number of adult male smokers in the nation at 24.14 million, down 1.3 million from the previous year, with adult female smokers totaling 7.38 million, down 320,000.
The smoking rate among men was highest for those in their 30s, at 59.6 percent.
Women in their 20s were the heaviest smokers among females, at 24.3 percent.
Hokkaido has the largest proportion of adult smokers among the nation’s nine geographical regions.
“The prolonged economic stagnation and heightened awareness about health and smoking can be thought of as contributing to the decline in the number of smokers in Japan,” said an official of Japan’s largest tobacco producer.
The annual survey, conducted since 1965, polled 11,079 men and women over the age of 20. The legal smoking age is 20.
The Tobacco Institute of Japan, an industry body, said cigarette sales between April and September this year dropped 1.4 percent year on year to 160 billion units, the fourth straight year of decline.