According to internal documents from the tobacco industry, companies are applying the same tactics used in the U.S. and Europe since the 1920s to lure a new generation of female smokers in South Korea.
Research published in the journal Globalization and Health found that since the South Korean cigarette market was opened to the world in 1988, transnational tobacco companies have been running ads in the country that link smoking with feminism and the liberation of women. "Product design associating smoking with body image and female emancipation, familiarly deployed elsewhere, have been extensively used in South Korea to appeal to female smokers," says lead researcher Kelley Lee. Though South Korea banned tobacco advertising marketed directly to women and children in 1989, the tobacco companies found ways around the law, such as using couples in ads and billing cigarettes as "ultra light" or "superslim," to target women. Smoking rates among women in certain age groups have risen in the past 20 years in South Korea, and researchers say the government needs to tighten restrictions and educate the public on the facts about smoking. [EurekAlert]