SEOUL, KOREA — Korean Government announced smoking will be prohibited at all restaurants in Korea from 2015.
Ministry of Health and Welfare issued an advance notice (28 June ~ 26 Aug.) of the legislation of the amended enforcement regulation of the National Health Promotion Act which is expected to come into effect on 8 December.
This amendment is for implementation of the National Health Promotion Act revised in June 2011 and it contains the standards for areas of general restaurants that will be entirely designated as non-smoking area, public facilities that are being newly added as non-smoking area, and details regarding stronger warning signs against smoking, etc. Major details of the amendment are as below.
Expansion of non-smoking areas
Currently, more than a half of the inside of the business areas of general restaurants, eateries, and bakeries larger than 150㎡ are to be designated as non-smoking area but from now on the entire areas of the facilities shall be designated as non-smoking area. This will be applied to the area of the business place larger than 150㎡ from 8 Dec. 2012, to larger than 100㎡ from 1 Jan. 2014 and to all the businesses from 1 Jan. 2015.
* Status: 76 thousand places (larger than 150㎡), 77 thousand places (150～100㎡) , 528 thousand places (less than 100㎡) This has partially incorporated a suggestion from a local government body that saw the urgent need to designate the entire business area as non-smoking area since the damage caused by indirect smoking at small restaurants is really serious.
Furthermore, public-use facilities that are being newly added as non-smoking area along with the revision of the enforcement regulation are expressway service areas and designated cultural heritages.
The buildings and attached facilities (including roofless building corridors, pathways and staircases, etc.) that are located on national expressways are being newly designated as non-smoking area in accordance with the Road Act. There are as many as 180 places falling under this category nationwide.
In this regard, the management authorities, etc. will be advised to design and run separate smoking areas within the sites of the service areas to let smokers to smoke while minimizing the damage to the non-smokers.
The designated culture heritages and their protected areas according to the Cultural Heritage Protection Act will all be designated as smoking area except for residential structures and an request from the Cultural Heritage Administration has been fully incorporated into this provision.
In the meantime, when revising the Act, the National Assembly recommended to the government that billiard saloons be designated as non-smoking area in the subordinate decree but due to a systematic problem*, this was not included in this amended Act. Ways to amending the Act later by collecting opinions will be looked at.
Sports facilities that can accommodate more than 10 million people are designated as non-smoking area in the revised Act. Therefore, the amendment is needed to include the billiard hall, a sports facility that mostly accommodates fewer than 10 thousand people, as non-smoking area.
Strong warning sign against smoking
According to the amended Act, the phrase that “the amount of tar differs by the smokers’ smoking habits” and the phone number of the counseling line for quitting smoking run by Ministry of Health and Welfare will be added to the existing warning signs indicated on tobacco packages.
The warning phrase covering 30% of the area of the front and back sides of the tobacco package will also appear on the side of the package, covering 30% of the section.
In the meantime, Ministry of Health and Welfare added that Korea’s non-smoking policy needs to be reinforced given that the pattern of smoking reduction in the nation is at a standstill and WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control General Meeting is scheduled to be held in Seoul in Nov. 2012.