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Economic burden of smoking in Korea


Objective: To support tobacco control policies in Korea by providing the estimated annual economic burden attributed to cigarette smoking.

Methods: The following two different approaches were used to estimate the cost: “disease specific” and “all causes”. In the disease specific approach, we focused on estimating direct and indirect costs involved in treatments of cardiovascular, respiratory, and gastrointestinal diseases, and cancer as a result of smoking, by using an epidemiologic approach—the population attributable risk (PAR). To compute PAR, the relative risks of smoking in terms of physician visits, hospital admission, and death were estimated using the Cox proportional hazard model. In the all causes approach, we examined the differences in direct and indirect costs between smokers and non-smokers for all conditions and types of disease. The major data source was the Korea Medical Insurance Corporation cohort study, which had complete records of smoking status as of 1992 for 115 682 male and 67 932 female insured workers.

Results: By the disease specific approach, the estimated costs attributable to smoking in 1998 in Korea ranged from US$2269.42 million ($4.89 million per 100 000 population; 0.59% of gross domestic product (GDP)) to $2956.75 million ($6.37 million; 0.78% of GDP). The all causes approach yielded a minimum cost of $3154.75 million ($6.79 million; 0.82% GDP) and a maximum of $4580.25 million ($9.86 million; 1.19% GDP).

Conclusion: The study confirms that smoking places a substantial economic burden on Korean society. In light of this, our study provides evidence for a strong need to develop a national policy to effectively control tobacco consumption in Korea.

  • economics
  • policy
  • Korea
  • GDP, gross domestic product
  • KMIC, Korea Medical Insurance Corporation
  • PAR, population attributable risk
  • PYLL, potential years of life lost
  • RR, relative risk

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