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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  • Dark Night

    What use is a law if there aren’t anyone to enforce it. I’ve seen smokers in the Kangnam district, yet no one said or did anything about it.

    • Small twon

      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.


      • Ryan

        Know what you are talking about before you tell him to read. Most of the streets in Gangnam already are no smoking areas, you can see the signs all over.

        As a light/casual smoker I think they are pushing against smokers a bit too much. In the last couple years they already banned smoking in most bars and restaurants, then doubled the price of smokes, and now want to ban sidewalks too. Lack of smoking area doesn’t effect me much, but for those who smoke regularly, it gets to be a big hassle. When it’s too much of a hassle they just ignore the rules.

        There is no enforcement in Korea, of just about anything. People smoke in the halls and the elevator of my building even though there are signs and warnings about fines up every 10 feet. Who is around to enforce it? Nobody. They should work slower and put a bit more effort into steady enforcement of the rules (not just about smoking) that they already have, instead of adding more and more unenforced restrictions.

        • P.

          the enforcement is done by a light tap on the shoulder and a quick, “ajoshi, I’m sorry but smoking is not allowed here”. Most of them abide by the request with a quick embarrassed apology and a butt out. The only ones who are immune to it all are the Chinese tourists. I seen times when they were politely told that smoking is not permitted here, yet the Chinese totally ignore the requests and continue to puff away. And since Koreans don’t want to drive away tourism, they’re now scared to confront the Chinese. Only the natives have to butt out when they are requested. Harsher crackdowns by police will probably lead to shrinking of tourism as well.

    • Sid Driver

      I still see people smoking right outside of the subway stations or even worse in the little bus hubbies while they are waiting. They just need more enforcement to back things up. I’m sure it will get better over time.

  • commander

    Unless cigarette production is banned, the right to smoke is also respected as much as non smokers have the right to be spared secondhand smoking.

    Although activists for non smoking applaud the ban on indoor smoking, the problem is that there are not many places equipped with smoking rooms in buildings, restaurants and cafes.

    While some of them put in place smoking rooms, they don’t have good ventilation, making smokers prefer smoking outside where they are to smoking inside–one of reasons increasing smoking on streets thus bigger chances of secondhand smoking for pedestrians.

    • namepen

      Smokers rights shouldn’t be respected because their filthy habit negatively impacts on the health of other people.

      I am sure you have been in a stairwell that stinks to high heaven of smoke cos some ass has decided it is too cold outside. Or you have had to dodge revolting clouds of smoke on the sidewalk from the plebs with fags in their hands.

      Do these people deserve respect? No, they deserve our contempt.

      • Vinny Gracchus

        A human being deserving contempt because you don’t like their habits? What kind of Nazi are you?

        • Matt

          A human being deserves contempt for endangering the health of others. That applies to Nazis and smokers alike.

          • Vinny Gracchus

            Yes, but second hand smoke (especially outside) does not endanger the health of others. The intolerance directed against smokers has ben fostered by the antismoking movement’s campaign to denormalize smoking.

          • Matt

            Do you really expect me to believe that inhaling pollutants into the lungs isn’t harmful? Use your common sense. If you acknowledge that it’s less harmful outside than indoors, you’re basically admitting that it is harmful, and that it’s simply less harmful outside due to the lower concentration of pollutants. That doesn’t mean the pollutants disappear entirely and pose zero harm.

            You mas as well note that pouring hydrogen peroxide into an ocean isn’t as harmful as pouring hydrogen peroxide into a pool. The fact that it’s a lower dilution and therefore less harmful doesn’t mean it’s completely harmless.

          • Vinny Gracchus

            It is a matter of ventilation and as you note dilution. Any substance can be toxic in too great a concentration (including for example water and certainly oxygen). The risk from environmental tobacco smoke indoors is virtually nil, outdoors that decreases. The concentrations matter, a heavy smoker take decades to have a negative effect from smoking (if ever), that includes direct and passive consumption. Certainly passive consumption is at lower level.

            You are right no substance is completely harmless. There is no such thing as zero harm from any substance, but causing a negative health threat in a timeframe applicable to humans is another issue. It is a matter of risk and the risk from second hand smoke has been exaggerated to suit a political agenda.

            There is actually a much greater health risk on the sidewalks of Seoul (or any major city) from diesel fuel and vehicle emissions (this has been known since the 1950s and much of the lung cancer attributed to smoking may actually be linked to these). Experience in Hawaii found that particulate levels inside bars that allowed smoking were actually lower than the particulate levels on busy street corners.

          • ParkJeongHer

            The equivocating is beyond stupid here. It is documented that second hand smoke affects health. It is also well known that first hand smoke affects health. Korea has a public health care system where EVERYONE pays. It costs everyone more to support smokers. Financially, it’s retarded to allow much smoking. It should be taxed to hell like in the US, Europe, and Australia.

            Why do you think British American Tobacco is on the top floor of the Gangnam Finance Center? Because they f*cking run the show around here, Gangnam style.

          • Vinny Gracchus

            The claims against second hand smoke do not hold up to close scrutiny. The same is true about the claims about costs. And while you check for the ‘equivocating’ note that many of the disease attributed to smoking and second hand smoke either were declining before the smoking bans or are rising despite the bans.

            The real financial beneficiary here is not any tobacco firm it is the pharmaceutical companies that replaced nicotine patches and other nicotine replacement therapy for tobacco. They are making the profits, funding the research and providing kick backs to politicians and health professional that employ smoking bans.

          • ParkJeongHim

            like talking to drywall

          • mr.wiener

            You are equating smokers with nazis?
            @vinny Gracchus , you are equating non smokers with nazis?
            Shame on you both.

    • Smith_90125

      It’s not a “right” to smoke, it’s an addiction.

      • David

        but it is a legal action protected under the law, so it is also a right. Just like drinking and fucking.

  • Great news. Hope it works out and they are able to get it (the law) done and are able to enforce ticketing with those who break it.

  • Sid Driver

    They should ban them in apartments… I hate waking up in the morning on the weekends smelling smoke in my apartment coming from the neighbors that spent all night partying it up. Sometimes I can even smell it on my clothes… just disgusting…

    • Steven Richards

      Poor little commie.
      Make sure your government gives you a good diaper change, and wipes your raw-rear efficiently while you’re licking that lollypop full of propaganda!

      • Sid Driver

        lol Another dirty smoker I presume? Wow… I’m getting so much love from them today… thank-you! Do you even understand what you wrote? Calling me a commie? Government give me a diaper change? Lollipop of propaganda? Go back to your dirty, smoke filled hole.

        • Smith_90125

          They’re not smokers, they’re buttheads.

          They don’t have rights, they have an addiction.

          • Vinny Gracchus

            You seem to misunderstand the concepts of rights but have no problem dehumanizing others who have different practices or beliefs.

      • Matt

        TIL not wanting to inhale toxic shit into your lungs makes you a communist.

      • Small twon

        Get thee behind me troll !

    • レン 。

      Apparently I might also be a communist for thinking that it’s pretty
      reasonable for a non-smoker to not want their possessions to reek like

      As if the smell of cigarettes isn’t bad enough, stale cigarettes are absolutely gross. Sorry you have to put up with that, seriously. :(

    • Dave Park

      So… smokers can’t smoke in the privacy of their own home?

  • FYIADragoon

    This should exist all over the world. There’s nothing I hate more than taking a walk outside and having to walk through some idiot’s smoke. You want to burn your lungs out? Fine, but do it somewhere where it doesn’t inconvenience the majority of the population. I shouldn’t have to take the car out just to avoid smokers.

  • Smith_90125

    Easy solution: Legalize throwing water on smokers in places where non-smokers are, and NOT call it assault. At the same time, if the butheads do anything to the water throwing non-smokers (including stopping them), charge them with assault.

  • bigmamat

    Next thing you know they’ll be banning stumbling around drunk and puking on the sidewalks…..

  • miss dillydally

    Well at least the smokers in Korea seem considerate. You wouldn’t believe the glares and cursing hurled when politely asking someone to not smoke in a designated nonsmoking area. Maybe it’s just the area I live in.

  • Vinny Gracchus

    It’s time to stop persecuting smokers. Smoking bans do not reduce smoking rates and they don’t protect health as there is no risk from second hand smoke indoors or outside. This is not a grassroots movement; is an orchestrated campaign by dedicated antismokers. The antismoking comments here are evidence of bigotry and hatred fueled by tobacco control propaganda.

    For a start look at take a look at Enstrom James E, Kabat Geoffrey C, Smith Davey. Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98 BMJ 2003; 326:1057.

    This study found “No significant associations were found for current or former exposure to environmental tobacco smoke before or after adjusting for seven confounders and before or after excluding participants with pre-existing disease. No significant associations were found during the shorter follow up periods of 1960-5, 1966-72, 1973-85, and 1973-98.”

    “Conclusions: The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality, although they do not rule out a small effect. The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed.”

    • Matt

      “Smoking bans do not reduce smoking rates and they don’t protect health as there is no risk from second hand smoke indoors or outside.”


Go fuck yourself.

      It’s funny that when I Google “Enstrom James E, Kabat Geoffrey C, Smith Davey”, comment after comment by Vinny Gracchus pops up:







      No wonder your comment history is set to private. Vinny, I know we all need to make a living, but consider retail or sales, instead of being a shill for the tobacco industry. At least, I hope you’re being paid to spew this shit. The alternative––that you’re just a volunteer useful idiot––would be much more embarrassing.

      If you can cite that shoddy paper, so can I:

      In recent years JEE has received funds originating from the tobacco industry for his tobacco related epidemiological research because it has been impossible for him to obtain equivalent funds from other sources. GCK never received funds originating from the tobacco industry until last year, when he conducted an epidemiological review for a law firm which has several tobacco companies as clients. He has served as a consultant to the University of California at Los Angeles for this paper.


More fun info for the public’s perusal:

      Enstrom is a controversial figure who has accepted funding from the Philip Morris tobacco company and the Center for Indoor Air Research (a tobacco industry front group), and subsequently published research that contradicted scientific consensus about the health effects of secondhand tobacco smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke, or ETS.

      Tobacco companies have used Enstrom’s work to help confuse the public about the causative link between tobacco smoke and disease. For example, a 1992 British American Tobacco (BAT) handbook titled Smoking Issues Claims and Responses counsels BAT employees to publicly deny that smoking causes lung cancer, claiming that statistics have failed to be conclusive on the question. The manual cites Enstrom as one of the “eminent scientists” who has “questioned the evidence on smoking and lung cancer because of its many inconsistencies.”

      In 1997 Enstrom wrote to Richard Carchman, Director of Scientific Affairs at Philip Morris, asking for $150,000 to study the link between environmental tobacco smoke and mortality rates. Enstrom wrote, “A substantial research commitment on your part is necessary in order for me to effectively compete against the large mountain of epidemiologic data and opinions that already exist regarding the health effects of ETS and active smoking.” Also in 1997, Max Eisenberg, Director of the tobacco industry-funded CIAR, held discussions with Enstrom and epidemiologist Geoffrey Kabat of the State University of New York in Stoneybrook, about the possibility of their collaboration. The same year, Philip Morris granted Enstrom $150,000 (in the form of two payments of $75,000) to fund a project titled “Relationship of low levels of active smoking to mortality.”

      In 2003 Enstrom and Kabat published an article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) titled, Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians 1960-98. The study was based on a dataset collected by the American Cancer Society for the purpose of measuring the health effects of active smoking rather than passive smoking. Enstrom’s article was controversial for its finding that secondhand tobacco smoke was less harmful than previously believed. Enstrom and Kabat wrote that “The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality, although they do not rule out a small effect. The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed.”

      BMJ received approximately 150 “rapid response” letters to the article, most of which sharply criticized Enstrom’s findings. One of the respondents was Michael J. Thun, Vice President and head of epidemiology and surveillance research at the American Cancer Society, who pronounced Enstrom and Kabat’s study “fatally flawed” because “no information was obtained on sources of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke [in the dataset] other then smoking status of the spouse,” and “tobacco smoke was so pervasive in the United states in the 1950s and 1960s that virtually everyone was exposed at home, at work or in other settings.” Enstrom responded by saying Thun had been unable to “identify a single error” in the study and that his “attack should be seen for what it is–an attempt to discredit work that is at variance with the position he’s committed to.”


In 1999 the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) brought a massive lawsuit against the major U.S. cigarette manufacturers alleging that the companies had collaborated in an elaborate, decades-long conspiracy to deceive the American public about the health effects of active smoking and secondhand smoke. In August 2006, Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. ruled against the companies. The court’s Final Opinion contains a detailed timeline (starting in Section 5, paragraph #3781, on Page 1380) describing communication between Philip Morris and Enstrom to produce the 2003 BMJ study, and describes how the American Cancer Society had repeatedly warned Enstrom that using its CPS-I data in the manner he was using it would lead to unreliable results. The court’s Final Opinion cites the 2003 Enstrom/Kabat study as a significant part of the companies’ conspiratorial enterprise against the American public.


  • jake

    Before smokers get upset, consider this: How often do you see littering laws being enforced? How often do you see traffic law being enforced? How often do you hear about laws regarding prostitution being enforced? What makes anyone think that the police will take a sudden interest in enforcing this particular law? The only reason that parking laws seem to be somewhat enforced is that the government deputizes droves of senior citizens on a peasant wages/commission basis to go around photographing and citing parking violators, and furthermore, the enforcement of parking laws doesn’t usually require any direct human interaction, unlike littering, traffic, smoking and other violations would.

  • That’s marvelous

    Never experienced much sidewalk smoking in Seoul. I don’t see the big problem.

    What IS disgusting is when colleagues smoke outside and then walk back in and instantly ruin the office air.

  • Jang Hae Joo

    Smoking on the streets should definitely be approved. If the smokers are just up to warm themselves, then put on really thick coats (or do a group hug). Minors and pregnant women do not have a very strong immunity and it would be dangerous for them walking around near a ped smoker. Just like others said, make smoking booths instead (that actually rhymed I had to type this). If they’re in a hurry to stop by a smoking booth, then hustle to your destination. Forget smoking. Just do it later if you’re really itching to. I really hate smokers though. They remind me of L4D2 smokers. Hahah! :)

  • BSDetector

    I weep for some of my fellow non-smokers. You are such hypocritical little sheep, parroting PC garbage. I’ll wager any of your cyber-social justice egos in gold that not a single one of you are this vocally opposed to any of the tens of thousands of things more environmentally damaging that are put into the air every day globally. Nor would you dare rail against other personal choices unless they too were fashionable to mock.

    None of you would use verbiage like filthy or disgusting when it comes to exceedingly overweight people or those who regularly get dead drunk; you most likely belong to one or both of the aforementioned conditions of which both are larger negative impacts to society. Enough with your grandiose claims of exposure and cries for bans as you need to just shut your holes and set yourself to read-only. In fact stay the F off the internet entirely; your stupidity is infectious and needs to be contained.

    Smokers you keep on doing your thing, just don’t litter or blow it in my face and we’re good.

  • nineteen85

    Non-smokers = Nazis
    Smokers = Jews

    Smokers have to be Jews since they so much Jew gold they use to buy expensive cigarettes with. And just like the Nazis were, non-smokers are jealous of Jew gold. Only difference this time is how the Jews are requesting concentration camps(smoking booths), and if history has taught us right. I say give it to them! Better they gas themselves than us right? Proud to be Nazi, like the rest of my Nazi brothers. All 62.5% of you.

    p.s. I’m joking btw, I’m actually a smoker, but I saw the Nazi reference and couldn’t help myself.

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