The smoking rate for Japanese men stood at 29.7 percent as of May this year, slipping below 30 percent for the first time since the survey began in 1965, Japan Tobacco Inc. said Thursday.
The rate was down 1.3 percentage points from a year before.
Behind the drop were various factors, including an aging population, growing awareness about the health risks associated with smoking, tighter smoking-related regulations, and tax and price hikes, the company said.
The smoking rate for women rose 0.1 point to 9.7 percent.
The rate for overall Japanese adults dropped 0.6 point to a record low of 19.3 percent, the survey showed.
The estimated number of smokers came to 20.27 million, down by 570,000.
When the statistics were launched, the smoking rate was above 80 percent for men. The rate for women has been staying below 10 percent since 2014.
The latest survey was conducted on 32,000 adults across Japan, excluding areas damaged by a series of powerful earthquakes in Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan, in April. Valid responses came from 61.2 percent.