Friday, June 8, 2012

Ban on Smoking on the Street (in Gangnam)

(KBS World) Smoking in Gangnam Daero, an area with the heaviest foot traffic in Seoul, has been banned starting on June 1st. Public places like parks have often been designated as no-smoking zones, but this is the first time that a ban on smoking has been placed on the entire length of a street.

No-smoking Zone on Gangnam Daero
The area designated as a no-smoking zone is a one-kilometer stretch from Gangnam subway station to Shinnonhyeon station. This area is known as the busiest and trendiest place in Korea. Because of the heavy foot traffic in the area, smoking out on the street and the resulting second-hand smoking would cause serious harm to pedestrians. This prompted the authorities to impose a ban on outdoor smoking for the entire street. A no-smoking restriction on a traffic artery is expected to ensure the right for non-smokers to breathe clean air and prevent the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. A person caught smoking on Gangnam Daero will be fined 100,000 won (about 85 U.S. dollars). The new ordinance had been publicized for three months prior to the June 1st enforcement.
Ban on Outdoor Smoking
Cigarette smoking has been known to cause cancer and other serious illnesses. There is no longer any dispute over the harmful effects of smoking. Health hazards for non-smokers are serious as well. It has been scientifically proven that cigarette smoke can pose more harm to non-smokers, who have to breathe in unfiltered secondhand smoke. Smoking was prohibited first in public buildings and then the restriction was extended to outdoor public places, such as parks, plazas, and bus stops. The recent ban on an entire street is just the latest in the move to ensure smoke-free environments for the public.
Expansion of No-smoking Zone
The no-smoking zone designation includes not only public places, but also the facilities used by many people. This means all restaurants will be mandated to be smoke-free in the future. The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced last Friday that it will notify a revision to the National Health Promotion Act in June that designates all restaurants in Korea as a smoke-free zone by 2016. The current ordinance mandates that any restaurant larger than 150 square meters in size allocate more than half of its space to non-smokers. Violators who smoke in the restaurants’ no-smoking section are currently fined 50,000 won (roughly 43 U.S. dollars). The new revision is to be applied to restaurants of all sizes, but night clubs and bars will be exempt. The Ministry of Health and Welfare is also pushing for a bill to impose the no-smoking rule to all highway rest stops, historic sites, and pool halls starting at the end of this year.
No Place for Smokers
It is becoming harder for smokers to indulge in their habit. The adverse effects of secondhand smoke have caused the public to perceive smoking as an act that is harmful to others, not just a personal habit. Smokers criticize the latest ordinance as nonsense, because the ban is not applied to alleys behind the main avenue and cigarettes are still sold in stores on the street side. Cigarette prices continue climbing and places where smoking is allowed are shrinking. Some extreme anti-smoking activists argue that cigarette production should be banned altogether. At this rate, it will soon be virtually impossible for smokers to sneak a puff anywhere. (Source:

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