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Public Health Challenges of Electronic Cigarettes in South Korea

Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health
Korean Society for Preventive Medicine
Publication Date
DOI: 10.3961/jpmph.2011.44.6.235
  • Special Article
  • Communication
  • Medicine
  • Political Science


Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarrettes) were recently introduced and advertised as a smoking cession device in South Korea. As the social norm to quit smoking has gained hold in the country, the number of e-cigarette users is growing rapidly. This phenomenon should be urgently considered, because of the lack of research that has been conducted to examine the safety of e-cigarettes and its efficacy as a smoking cessation aid. This paper raises several public health concerns on e-cigarettes in South Korea. Uncertain regulations of the government on e-cigarettes are contributing to an increase of e-cigarette users and allowing the e-cigarette industry to circumvent existing regulations. The aggressive marketing activity of this industry is also a core factor that is responsible for the rapid increase of e-cigarette use, in particular among the youth. Following the enforcement of tobacco control, some cigarette smokers may be encouraged to purchase e-cigarettes in order to circumvent the regulations, even though the dual use of e-cigarette and cigarette may be more harmful. Until there is clear evidence of the e-cigarette's safety, it is recommended that the industry's marketing and promotional activities be banned and closely monitored, and public campaigns be initiated to educate the public regarding e-cigarettes.

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