Korean Government Wants to Ban Smoking on Sidewalks

This new policy follows recent actions by the Korean government hiking up cigarette prices in the new year to cut down on smoking rates. But will this policy be effective, or even enforceable? The Korean government is in the midst of revising a policy to ban “walking smoking,” or smoking on sidewalks across Seoul. The reasoning is that secondhand smoking is encountered most frequently on the streets, and many citizens have complained about walking behind smokers and inhaling the fumes of the cigarettes. However, many smokers are pushing back, questioning where their tax money is going, as the increase in cigarette prices does not seem to have led to an increase in benefits for smokers, like the installation of smoking booths.

Article from News1:

Seoul Promoting the Creation of No Smoking Zone on Sidewalks…The Disappearance of ‘Walking Smokers’?

Walking smokers will soon disappear from Seoul. This is because the City Council of Seoul is in the process of promoting the “Partly Revised Seoul City Ordinance to Prevent Harm From Secondhand Smoking” that will create no smoking zones on sidewalks.

korean government bans smoking cigarettes on street

If one is caught smoking in a no smoking zone in Seoul, the fine is 100,000 won if caught smoking inside a building, and 50,000~ 100,000 won if it happens outside a building. This March, if the City Council of Seoul passes the ordinance, beginning from mid-April, walking smokers will have to pay a maximum fine of 100,000 won for smoking on sidewalks.

Non-smokers welcome the ordinance, but it remains to be seen if the revised bill will pass in its original form, as the smokers losing their footing will resist the bill.

The revised bill adds additional no smoking zones to the original bill including “sidewalks, school buses, and pedestrian walkways outlined in Article 2 of the Road Traffic Law.”

Congressman Nam Chae-kyoung (Saenuri Party Jongro 1), who proposed the revised bill, said on Jan 27, “I would like to designate no smoking zones on sidewalks all over Seoul” and “Smoking cigarettes while walking on the street is not a problem of individual rights, but rather creates problems for public order.

According to the results of the city’s “2013 No Smoking City- Public Survey of Seoul’s Companies,” the most common location citizens come into contact with secondhand smoke in outdoor public areas is “on the street” at (54.9%).

One non-smoker said “When I walk on the street behind a smoker, I’m always exposed to secondhand smoke.” “I try to walk fast and pass them, but it would be better if they didn’t smoke on the street.”

Smokers agree with the aim of no smoking on the streets, but from their perspective, it seems it will be difficult to apply restrictions after creating additional smoking spaces.

One smoker is opposed, saying, “Cafes and restaurants are all no smoking zones, so designating even the streets outside as no smoking zones is too much.” “It’s not like it’s illegal to smoke. Doesn’t the government get more tax money from increasing the prices of cigarettes? If we can’t smoke on the streets, shouldn’t they fix us up with another space using tax money where we can smoke? What are we going to do if they just keep on decreasing [the places we can smoke]?”

Another smoker said, “I smoke, but I also hate those who smoke while walking on the street.” “However, if they limit smoking on the main street, it will create a ballooning effect where many people will smoke on back streets.”

In response to smoker’s opposition, Congressman Nam said, “I think it’s obvious they will object.” “We need a law to guarantee their smoking rights too.”

Some people are questioning whether it’s realistic to ban smoking on the street and how effective the sanction will be. They are also questioning whether the government has the manpower to enforce this on all the streets in Seoul.

In the survey, respondents also cited being exposed to secondhand smoke at bus stops (21.8%), building entrances (17.4%), and parks (3.6%). When respondents were asked who the biggest victim of secondhand smoke were, 37.6 % said “children.” 27.1% said pregnant women and their fetuses, and 13.4% said women.

Comments from Naver :


I don’t smoke…but don’t the increased taxes from the higher cigarette prices include money for installing facilities like smoking booths? If you collect taxes, use it for the original purpose. They use all kinds of reasons to collect taxes…why don’t they use these taxes appropriately?


Smoking on the street should disappear.


Make smoking booths.


For real, since they raised the prices, they should accordingly provide more facilities.


I smoke, but I hate people who smoke on the street. Instead they should create public smoking venues. Since they rip off smokers, they shouldn’t waste that money on something useless.


I also don’t want to harm non-smokers, so please make smoking booths…


So where exactly are they going to set up these smoking zones? If buildings and sidewalks are all off limits to smokers, where are are they supposed to smoke?


Come to Daelim. It is very common for Chinese people and Joseonjok [Korean Chinese nationals in China] to smoke on the street. If you want to collect taxes [from smoking], come here.


Don’t just increase the number of no smoking zones. They should accurately inform smokers about smoking zones when they install them. [The government] is just putting no smoking signs everywhere after increasing cigarette prices with no proper planning.


I’m a smoker, but every time I smoke, I feel sorry for the people around me. So I look for a smoking place. When I went to Gangnam, there were just two smoking places keke. I only intended to smoke one cigarette, but i had to walk 100 meters [to find a place to smoke]. If [the government] creates smoking zones, it will be a win-win situation. what does it solve if you just on about smoker bugs…We’re also aware of other people’s discomfort, so we don’t like smoking on the street. Then they tell us to quite smoking keke. F*ck try going your whole life without eating chicken. We’re not druggies. It’s just a matter of personal taste.


I don’t smoke, but this isn’t right. [The government] should create spaces for smokers to smoke to prevent adverse effects…Their goal is obviously raising taxes to punish [smokers].


Geun-hye unnie~~~~Whose ass are you wiping after you collect so many fucking taxes~? Are you not going to make smoking zones?


If you’re that worried about people’s health…just…don’t let them sell cigarettes~ ^^


What happened to the woman who said she would resolve everything without increasing taxes when she became president? … This is government by the rich for the rich…Get rid of the tax deduction for the rich…When President Roh was in power, when the price of cigarettes rose by 500 won, the Grand National Party [Saenuri Partys former body] foamed at their mouth as in this article. http://impeter.tistory.com/m/post/2587 And how can they raise the price by 2000 won? Reflect on this…Were there other alternatives to An Cheol-soo and Moon Jae-in [for president]?

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