National / Science & Health

Low-income people in Japan more likely to smoke, health ministry report reveals

JIJI

Smoking rates among low-income people exceed those of their higher-income counterparts, the health ministry said in a national health and nutrition survey report Tuesday.

The survey showed that one in three men with an annual income of less than ¥2 million smokes.

“Health disparities remain in some areas,” a ministry official said, adding that the ministry would utilize the survey results for its future policies.

The survey was conducted in November 2018. Valid answers were provided by 3,268 of the 5,032 households surveyed across the country.

A total of 34.3 percent of men with an annual income of less than ¥2 million smoke, compared to 32.9 percent among those with an income of ¥2 million to less than ¥4 million and 27.3 percent among those with an income of at least ¥6 million.

For women, the smoking rate came to 13.7 percent among those with an income of less than ¥2 million, 9.6 percent among those with an income of ¥2 million to less than ¥4 million and 6.5 percent among those with an income of ¥6 million or higher.

The survey also showed that the proportions of people who did not have health checkups in the past year and those with fewer than 20 teeth were higher among the low-income cohort.

Starting with the latest survey, the ministry also compiled data on the proportion of people who smoke heat-not-burn tobacco products.

Of responding male smokers, 30.6 percent said they use heat-not-burn tobacco products, including those who also smoke conventional cigarettes. The share stood at 23.6 percent among women.

The survey showed heat-not-burn products are popular among young people. A majority of male smokers between 20 and 39 said they use the products.

Japan will put into effect a revised health promotion law in April to basically ban indoor smoking at locations including corporate offices and restaurants.