February 8, 2011 - Once a smokers’ haven, South Korea becomes one big ‘no-smoking’ zone. South Korea moved to ban smoking in public places, both indoor and outdoor, from 2011 in a bid to reduce the country’s smoking rate. The social environment of smoking has changed so much over the years, and smokers too often find themselves unwelcome almost everywhere in the country.
South Korea’s smoking rate for people aged 19 or older stood at 39.6 percent last year, down from 43.1 percent a year earlier but still way above the average of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member nations, which recorded 27.3 percent in 2008. South Korea hopes to bring its smoking rate down to the OECD level within the coming years.
Smokers in big cities like the capital Seoul face more difficulty in finding places to enjoy smoking.
Smokers in Seoul will no longer be able to light up in the city's main squares under the toughened anti-cigarette ordinance that will take effect March 1, 2011.Smoking could become more expensive, too. Health Minister Chin Soo-hee recently suggested that cigarette prices must be doubled to 5,000 won ($4.60) a pack as part of efforts to discourage smoking. She later backed down under angry reactions from smokers but insisted that she will find an appropriate price after consulting with the U.N. World Health Organization. Smokers blame the government for first getting them hooked on smoking and now trying to tax them even more. (South Korea - charge enough for cigarettes smokers will quit..)
"The smoking ban ordinance will include three main squares in downtown of the capital -- Seoul Plaza, Cheongyecheon Plaza andGwanghwamun Plaza -- in a bid to reduce side effects of smoking in public spaces," said the Seoul Metropolitan Government
As part of its public awareness campaign, the city government said it will set up warning signs around the squares by the end of this month and give a three-month notification period. When the grace period ends on June one, those who smoke in the prohibited area will be slapped with a fine of USD 90, it said.
Seoul city also plans to designate a total of 321 publicspaces as non-smoking areas within this year, adding 23 cityparks by September and 295 major bus stations by December,officials said.
The new ordinance was passed by the city council last October following the passage of an anti-smoking law at the parliament, which ordered regional governments to implement anti-smoking policies to make it more difficult for people to smoke in public places.
Smoking to be banned in Seoul''s main squares from March, Youhap News, oneIndia news, 2/4/2011.
About half of the price of a cigarette is already tax and they want to impose more tax, claiming it will cut the smoking rate. The truth is it will have little effect on the smoking rate because people who smoke will continue to buy even at high prices, meaning they will only end up paying more tax.”
In addition, smokers in the country face added difficulties at the office, as many companies are advising, if not forcing, their workers to quit smoking or even choosing not to hire new employees who smoke.
Taihan Electric Wire Co., South Korea’s oldest and second-largest electric cable maker, recently launched a company-wide no-smoking campaign, offering a 350,000-won ($320) reward to anyone who agrees to quit, in addition to a free three-day vacation to anyone who succeeds in quitting.
Hanwha Chemical Corp. recently launched a similar anti-smoking campaign that includes regular nicotine tests for workers who pledge to quit smoking. If an employee fails to show significant drops in nicotine levels, twice in a row, he or she must spend three days at a rehabilitation center at his or her own expense and vacation time.
Samsung Electronics to ban all smoking in workplaces.. The corporation announced its plans to eliminate all smoking areas by the end of this year. And this applies nationwide to all of its plants and offices. Until now employees of Samsung Electronics were allowed to light cigarettes in designated smoking areas during their lunch time or after work. But in efforts to create a better working environment for everyone the company is determined to carry out its new plans.
Samsung's plant in Gumi already closed its smoking area in January this year with other offices in cities like Suwon, Gwangju, Hwaseong and Cheonan expected to follow soon. And to make sure that no one sneaks a cigarette or two into the office to smoke secretly, the company will be checking its employees when they arrive at work to see if they possess anything that would allow them to smoke such as cigarettes, cigars and lighters. And if a person is found to be carrying such items they will not be allowed into their office. Through such measures the company hopes to protect its employees' health and cut down exposure to second-hand smoke for non-smokers.
(Samsung Electronics to Ban All Smoking in Workplaces, Reporter : email@example.com, Arirang.co.kr, 9/16/2010)
Reference: Public puffing increasingly difficult in Korea, Youhap News, The Korea Herald, 2/8/2011.
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