TOKYO: Japan’s smoking rate has dropped below 20 percent for the first time, according to a new survey, as a recent rise in cigarette prices helped to further discourage the habit. The proportion of adult smokers stood at 19.7 percent as of May, down 1.2 percentage points from a year earlier and the lowest rate since the survey started in 1965. The number of smokers in Japan stands at about 20.6 million, according to the study published on Wednesday, which is conducted by cigarette monopoly Japan Tobacco. About 30.3 percent of adult men and 9.8 percent of adult women were smokers, it said. The overall figures put Japan roughly on par with the United States, where the Centers for Disease Control estimates that some 18.1 percent of the adult population smokes.