November 10, 2010 - The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (MGEF) announced a new juvenile policy Monday, November 8th to more actively restrict teenage drinking and smoking. From the end of next year teenagers will have to present their identification (ID) cards to prove they are over the age of 19 if they want to buy alcohol and cigarettes.
Venders will face a “three-strike” provision and will lose their licenses if they are caught selling liquor or tobacco to minors three times.
Currently the Youth Protection Act bans the sale of liquor and cigarette to minors, but teenagers did not have to prove they were over 19 when buying those items.
The new plan was devised by nine ministries including the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. Amendments will be voted on later this month and will go into effect in 2011 and 2012.
The Korean Association of Smoking and Health said they welcome the new regulations to prohibit teenage smoking though they took a long time to ratify. “There should be more regulations banning young smokers. For instance, we suggest not displaying advertisements for cigarettes at convenience stores,” Kim Eun-ji of the association said.
A recent survey by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) showed that 80.5 percent of 80,000 students questioned had bought or attempted to buy cigarettes. In 2009 nearly 16 percent of male high school students and 5.3 percent of female high school students replied they smoke daily.
Reference: Identification mandatory for teens to buy cigarettes by Kwon Mee-yoo, Korea Times, 11/8/2010.
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