South Korea - streets and parks of Seoul City could be designated as non-smoking areas.

March 24, 2010 - The 21 members of the Seoul Metropolitan Council proposed an ordinance to prohibit smoking on streets and in parks and plazas within the capital. (The administrative organization of the City of Seoul is divided into the Seoul Metropolitan Government, which acts as the executive branch, and the Seoul Metropolitan Council, which acts as the legislative body.)

"I suggested the bill to protect pregnant women and children from second-hand smoke on streets and at other public spaces," Park Hee-sung, a city councilor, said. "It also secures the right to smoke by designating smoking areas."

According to a survey by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs last year, nearly 60 percent of respondents complained about second-hand smoke in public areas. More than 66 percent had complaints about second-hand smoke on streets and 62 percent in restaurants.

The bill would affect public areas such as streets, parks, plazas and outside of municipal buildings. These areas would be required to set up a separate smoking section.

It would also provide incentives to companies participating in non-smoking campaigns. For example, eateries and cab companies working to reduce second-hand smoke would receive tax incentives.

The bill will be discussed in the extraordinary session of the municipal council in June. If passed, the ordinance would take effect from January 2011, fining violators up to 20,000 won.

Reference: Seoul to Ban Smoking in Public Places by Kwon Mee-yoo Staff Reporter, The Korea Times, 3/22/2010.

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