The proportion of Japanese adults who smoke has fallen to a record low for the fifth consecutive year, dropping to 32.9 percent from 33.6 percent last year, according to the latest survey by Japan Tobacco Inc.

The smoking rate among adult men dropped 0.5 point to 53.5 percent, marking a record low for the ninth consecutive year. The proportion of women smoking dropped to 13.7 percent from 14.5 percent.

The decline was attributed largely to an increasing number of old people kicking the habit due to their growing interest in health, said JT, the national tobacco monopoly.

JT conducted this year’s survey — the 36th — in May, sending questionnaires to 16,000 adults, of whom 11,059 provided valid replies.

The number of smokers is estimated at 33.13 million, down 440,000 from a year earlier, consisting of 26 million men and 7.13 million women, according to JT.

For men, the proportion of smokers was highest in the 30s age group, at 63.4 percent. For women, it was highest among those in their 20s, at 21.9 percent.

For both men and women, the proportion of smokers declined at a faster rate at higher age brackets.

By region, Hokkaido has the highest proportion of smokers, at 58.2 percent for men and 18.2 percent for women. The prefecture has now had the highest proportion of female smokers for 28 years in a row.

For the entire nation, male smokers smoked an average of 24.2 cigarettes per day, while their female counterparts smoked 17.3.

The prevalence of smoking among adults peaked at 49.4 percent in 1966. That year, 83.7 percent of men and 18 percent of women were smokers.

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