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Non-smoking policy to be changed from December 8th this year

  • Date : 2012-12-12
  • Hit : 9272

Non-smoking policy to be changed from December 8th this year

- Smoking in and outside government offices, the National Parliament, hospitals and libraries (including gardens) will be banned –

- Restaurants larger than 150 will become non-smoking zones, and smoking at these restaurants will be completely banned –

< Non-smoking policy to be changed from December 8th this year >

Smoking at public facilities will be banned (Clause ④ under Article 9)

① Smoking at the National Parliament, judicial offices, public facilities for children and teenagers (youth training camps, playgrounds for children, etc.), and even gardens and parking lots within these buildings will be completely banned along with the current non-smoking areas.

- A smoking room can be operated only when it abides by the proper standards and methods stipulated in the enforcement regulations [Asterisk 2] of the National Health Promotion Law.

② Restaurants, bars, and cafes larger than 150 will be completely smoke-free zones, and the smoking ban will be applied to all restaurants in 2015.

③ If these buildings are not designated as a smoke-free zone, owners will be fined 5 million won, and individuals who smoke in these zones will be fined 100,000 won.

Displaying flavors (menthol, coffee, etc.) on packaging will be banned. (Amendment 3 of Article 9)

① Displaying added flavors on commercials and packaging of tobacco products leaving the warehouse after December 8th will be prohibited.

② Tobacco manufactures violating this ban will be fined up to 5 million won.

Places authorized to install cigarette vending machines will be changed. (Clause ② under Article 9 of the law, Article 15 of enforcement regulations)

① As “smoking areas” will disappear, cigarette vending machines will only be allowed to be installed in “smoking rooms.”

② If a cigarette vending machine is installed in a non-designated location, a fine of up to five million won will be imposed.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced on December 5th that the National Health Promotion Act (revised in 2011) will go into effect beginning December 8th in order to prevent the harmful effects of secondhand smoke in public facilities, and effectively decrease factors that can tempt teenagers to smoke.

Smoking zones allowed under the current smoking ban will disappear, and the new regulation will completely prohibit smoking in and even outside public facilities.

Also, displaying added flavors, such as a “fruit flavor (e.f. apple)” or a “cocktail flavor (e.g. mojito),” to make a product attractive, which could make teenagers curious about the taste, will be banned on packaging and commercials.

<Complete ban on smoking in public facilities> (Clauses ④ and ⑥ of Article 9)

󰊱 “Public facilities” with the law applied

Smoking will be prohibited in government offices including the National Parliament and courts, and public facilities for children and teenagers, as well as the current non-smoking areas such as large buildings shopping centers, and physical training facilities. Smoking will only be allowed in a smoking room within these places.

※ According to the law, the smoking ban will go into effect at internet cafes beginning June, 2013 (Article 1 of the Additional Provision).

- The current regulations require public facilities to operate non-smoking areas (offices, meeting rooms, corridors, restrooms, etc.) and smoking areas, but have been showing limited protection for non-smokers from cigarette smoke coming from smoking areas.

Particularly, medical institutions, elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, kindergartens, and day-care centers have constantly called for non-smoking outside these buildings, such as near the entrance.

- Following the new smoking ban, smoking in parking lots, gardens, and school playgrounds within the fenced areas around these facilities, as well as indoors, will be banned, and smoking will only be allowed in a smoking room installed at a distance of no less than 10 meters from the entrances of these buildings.

- As the law was revised in 2011, this ban will be applied to youth training camps, libraries, and entertainment facilities for children.

Since the National Parliaments, courts, public offices, and provincial public companies, as well as offices of the central and local governments are classified as public facilities (following the rules on managing government offices), the entire site of these buildings will become non-smoking areas. (When there are previously specified related regulations, the rules will be determined by the existing regulations.)

- Considering that government offices are symbolic to the public, and they are public facilities for people from various walks of life, the ministry plans to recommend installing smoking rooms outside these buildings rather than indoors.

󰊲 Duties of facilities and business owners

The smoking ban stipulates that owners, occupants, and administrators (owners and the like hereafter) must hang up a warning sign, or attach a sticker as shown below, near the entrance to notify facility users that the entire building is non-smoking.

Graphics or words that symbolize non-smoking (example)

Non-smoking buildings


Non-smoking facilities




For violations, a 100,000 won fine will be imposed.

A smoking room must meet the installation standards and methods* stipulated in the ministry’s enforcement regulations. An outdoor smoking room should keep airtight so that cigarette smoke does not flow into a building, and should be equipped with proper ventilation systems.

※ Refer to the enforcement regulations [Asterisk 2] (attachment)

- A smoking room is for smoking only, regardless of the purpose of a facility, so it should not have other equipment inside it, such as a computer and table.

- When an outdoor smoking room is installed within the fenced area of a building, a boundary or a sign should be set up to inform that it is a smoking area.

󰊳 Punitive measures for violation (Paragraph 2 of Clause ① and Clause ③ under Article 32)

When owners and the like of public facilities do not designate their entire facility as a non-smoking area, they will be fined 1.7 million won, 3.3 million won, and 5 million won for the first, second, and third violation, respectively.

Smokers have been fined 100,000 won or 50,000 won according to the place they were smoking, but the new smoking ban will evenly impose a 100,000 won fine to individuals who smoke in all non-smoking areas.

- In such cases, a fine will not be imposed on the owners and the like.

※ (Currently) Smokers are fined 100,000 won in medical institutions, elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and day-care centers (completely non-smoking areas), and they are also fined 50,000 won in large buildings and shopping centers (partial non-smoking areas) for smoking.

󰊴 Restaurants and cafes

(Paragraph 24 of Clause ④ under Article 9 of the law, Clause ① under Article 6 of the enforcement regulations)

The National Health Promotion Act revised in 2011 stipulates that the ministry’s enforcement regulations should designate the size of smoking areas for restaurants, bars, pubs and cafes (restaurants hereafter).

- Currently, restaurants, food stands, and bakeries larger than 150 must have a non-smoking area which covers more than half of the total space.

※ Following the Food Sanitation Act, some stores such as fast food franchises, cafeterias, and karaoke bars are excluded.

Following the results of a policy debate (December, 2011), consultations among related ministries (June, 2012) and the preannouncement of the revision (June 28th to August 27th), smoking at all restaurants (680,000) will be banned to maintain equitability and prevent any harmful effects of secondhand smoke. However, the ban will be applied to small restaurants in stages.

※ There were suggestions that the smoking ban should be applied to all restaurants at once regardless of their size, but the difficulties that small business would face were taken into consideration.

Therefore, smoking will be banned at 80,000 restaurants larger than 150m2 and 150,000 restaurants larger than 100m2 from December 8th this year and January, 2014, respectively.

Like other facilities, restaurants will be required to follow the standards and methods when installing an outdoor smoking room.

- Reflecting some of the suggestions presented during the period of preannouncement, a smoking zone within some restaurants (e.g. cafes) with glass walls standing from the ceiling to the floor and blocking cigarette smoke can be operated as a smoking room for a while.

- Even these restaurants must close the existing smoking zones and install a smoking room with no tables beginning on January 1st, 2015 when the new smoking ban is applied to all restaurants regardless of their sizes.

Highway rest areas (food stands, restrooms, gas stations, information centers, etc.) and their complementary facilities (temporary buildings, temporary roofs, corridors, and stairs included), which are frequently used by families and have received civil petitions regarding secondhand smoke affecting children and teenagers, will also be designated as public facilities with the new smoking ban applied as well (180 rest areas nationwide).

- The ministry required management agencies to cooperate on installing an outdoor smoking room at rest areas to minimize any inconveniences for both non-smokers and smokers alike.

<Ban on displaying flavors (menthol, Chinese quince, etc.) on tobacco packaging and commercials> (Amendment 3 of Article 9)

󰊱 Tobacco products with the new ban applied

Thirty six tobacco products (out of 148 products from 9 companies) on the market as of August, 2012, will not be allowed to use words such as “mojito,” “apple mint,” “cherry,” café or coffee,” and “aroma or arome” on their brand names or packaging.

- Using the word “menthol” will be also prohibited as the law bans displaying any ingredients other than tobacco leaves on packaging, and the ministry finds there is no reason to make an exception for menthol.

※ However, common terms such as a “special flavor,” a “national flavor” and “flavor plus” which do not specify a certain flavor will be allowed.

Thus, 17 tobacco products (see the table below) on the market will discard their brand names and have new ones.


Brand name










BAT Korea



PM Korea





JT Korea


Tree on the shore (importer)

* foreign manufacturer: Von Eicken



󰊲 Duties of tobacco companies

As the law goes into effect, tobacco manufacturers and importers cannot use phrases, graphics, and photos to express flavors on cigarette packaging, in magazines, and advertisements in retail shops.

- The Minister of Health and Welfare will impose a fine on them, 1.7 million won for the first violation, 3.3 million won for the second, and 5 million won for the third.

󰊳 Measure in applying the law (Article 2 of the Additional Provision <applying cases>)

This Article will be applied to products which will leave the manufacturing facility or storage area, or show on commercials from December 8th.

- Products which have already left the warehouse will be an exception, so the 36 products will remain on the market for the time being.

< News articles regarding flavor added cigarettes >

(Case 1) A 14-year-old boy, last name Chang, was caught by the police in February, 2009 for stealing a pack of melon-flavored cigarettes. He said, “I wanted to smoke it with friends because it has a melon flavor.” (September 26th, 2009, OO newspaper)

(Case 2) A tenth-grade high school girl living in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, last name Cha, said, “A flavor added cigarette is fancy and has a pretty design, so friends who do not even smoke want to collect the boxes.” She added, “I saw so many replies on a social networking service under a photo of a flavor added cigarette that was posted by my friend.” (October 13th, 2009, OO newspaper)

< Places to be allowed to install a cigarette vending machine > (Clause ② under Article 9 of the law, Article 15 of the enforcement regulations)

The National Health Promotion Act stipulates that cigarette vending machines must only be installed within designated areas*.

As the new smoking ban abolishes “smoking areas” in public facilities and prohibits smoking entirely, vending machines will only be installed inside “smoking rooms.”

※ Designated areas: ① places people under the age of 19 cannot enter under the Juvenile Protection Act, ② within designated retail shops ③ designated smoking zones

There have been constant calls for maintaining existing cigarette vending machines after the law takes into effect, but this will go against Clause 2 of Article 9, And therefore, those requests were rejected.

For any violation, a mayor, a county governor, and a district chief can impose a fine of 1.7 million won for the first time, 3.3 million won for the second, and 5 million won for the third.

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