The Korean government has enacted a new law to lower smoking rates which came into force on July 1, 2013. The government is seeking to improve public health by lowering smoking rates and bringing smoking law into line with other countries.
Government health officials said each district across the country will be responsible for implementing the plan. Jeju Special Self-Governing Province says it is cooperating with health officials around lowering smoking rates and enforcing the law. Officials hope the law will result in a cultural change as by 2015 the ban will be extended to all businesses irrespective of size.
Smoking rates in Korea in 2012 were 7 percent for women and 44.3 percent for men; the OECD average was 17.5 and 27.5 percent for women and men, respectively.
Although there has been a decline in smoking rates among men in recent years, Korea is one of only three countries - along with Czech Republic and Greece - to see an increase in smoking among women in the last 10 years. In 2000, smoking rates were as high as 80 percent for men and as low as 2 percent for women.
What does the law outlaw?
From July 1, 2013, smoking in all restaurants, bars and coffee shops of more than 150 square meters (45 pyeong) will be illegal. From January 1, 2014, the law will apply to all business of more than 100 square meters (30 pyeong). By Jan. 1, 2015, all business, irrespective of size, will be affected.
Are any businesses exempt?
PC Bang (internet cafes) will have until 31 Dec. to comply. Until then they have the option of setting up smoking booths within their premises to skirt the ban. From Jan. 1, 2014 they will be treated as all other businesses.
How will customers know about the restrictions on premises?
All premises over 150 sq.m. must clearly display stickers to inform customers that smoking is not allowed on the premises.
What is the punishment for smokers?
If smokers are found smoking in non-smoking areas they can expect a fine of 100 thousand won. Government officials said that as of July 5, only one smoker had received an on-the-spot fine.
What is the punishment for business owners?
First offence for businesses allowing smoking on premises results in a 1.7 million won fine. This rises to 3.3 million the second time and then 5 million won for the third offence.
How will it be enforced?
Local officials will conduct routine patrols to target businesses and ensure compliance.
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