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No Smoking in the Central Government Complex and Hospitals

No Smoking in the Central Government Complex and Hospitals

Posted November. 21, 2001 09:09,   


Smoking will not be allowed in the Central Government Complex, kindergartens, elementary, middle and high schools and medical institutions, and smokers found in non-smoking areas will be fined (up to 100 thousand won).

Those who report the selling of cigarettes to minors will be rewarded, and comic book rental stores and PC rooms, where youngsters frequent, will be designated as smoke-free zones. In addition, smoking will be prohibited at outdoor stadiums with capacity over 1,000 seats.

The government announced overall measures for smoking prohibition on Nov. 20 as such and decided to revise related laws, rule and regulations step by step.

The government also decided to establish `National Center for Non-Smoking Movement` and to raise the national health improvement fund from 2 won per pack to 4 won in order to secure funds necessary for the center.

According to the overall measures for smoking prohibition, cigarette vending machines located in the smoking areas, which form 30~40 percent of the total of cigarette vending machines will be removed to prevent the youth from buying cigarettes, except those located in retail stores.

Prevention of smoking currently contained in the textbooks of the fifth and sixth grades of the elementary schools will be included in the textbooks of the first grade of the elementary schools, and non-smoking education to the elementary, middle and high school students and soldiers will be reinforced.

Local governments` promotional moves for selling cigarettes such as `Buy Cigarettes at Our Local Stores` to increase revenues, including cigarette consumption tax (510 won per pack) and local education tax (225 won per pack), are to be banned. Magazine advertisements for promoting the sales of cigarettes are to be reduced from 60 times a year to 30 times.

If building owners do not designate smoke-free buildings or separate smoking-areas, they will be fined 5 million won (currently, 100 thousand won).

The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) explained, "The nation`s male adult smoking rate and boy high school students` smoking rate mark the first and the second position in the world respectively, and recently the number of middle school student smokers and that of female smokers have increased sharply. Thus the government has decided to set forth smoking prohibition measures, considering smoking to be a serious threat to people`s health."

MOHW is aiming at the decrease of the rate of male smokers from 67.7 percent at present to 30 percent by 2010, and that of female smokers to less than 5 percent.

Meanwhile, the government is under criticism for the overall measures for smoking prohibition are too strict and without flexibility. And a claim that smoking prohibition measures should be carried out not in the direction of uniform restrictions and fining, bur rather in the direction of inducing smokers` voluntary participation and cooperation is gaining persuasive power.

Korea Smoker`s Association said, "Cigarettes are the adult`s preferences and legal products authorized by the government." and argued, "It is nothing not but a double attitude to allow for producing, manufacturing and selling cigarettes while imposing restrictions on cigarette consumers` smoking only."

Chul Moon fullmoon@donga.com