Tue . 19 Apr 2019

Smoking in South Korea

female smoking in south korea, smoking laws in south korea
Smoking in South Korea is similar to other developed countries in the OECD, with a daily smoking rate of 199% in 2013 compared to 209% in Germany and 193% in Japan1 However, male smoking is among the highest at 362% while female smoking by far the lowest at 43%1 The South Korean government aims to take down male smoking rate to the OECD average of 29% by 2020 by making the country one of the world's most difficult places to smoke,2 using a combination of significant price hikes, mandatory warning photos on cigarette packs, advertising bans, financial incentives and medical help for quitting along with a complete smoking ban in public places including all bars, restaurants and cafes3

South Korea enforced strict smoking bans in public places since July 2013, with fines of ₩100,000 won on any spotted smoker and up to ₩5 million won on shop owners not following the law It is illegal to smoke in all bars and restaurants, cafes, internet cafes, government buildings, kindergartens, schools, universities, hospitals, youth facilities, libraries, children's playgrounds, private academies, subway or train stations and their platforms and underground pathways, large buildings, theaters, department stores or shopping malls, large hotels and highway rest areas The strict bans came into force gradually beginning with a ban on places larger than 150 square meters in 2012, extended to 100 square meters in 2014, with a full-fledged complete nationwide ban on 1 January 20154


  • 1 Laws
    • 11 Nationwide
    • 12 Seoul
    • 13 Other regions
  • 2 Financial and medical help for quitting
  • 3 Prevalence and effects
  • 4 South Korean smoking etiquette
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links


Since 1 January 2015, South Korea has completely banned smoking on all bars, restaurants and cafes regardless of size, including any smoking rooms Any spotted smoker must pay fines of 100,000 won and up to 5 million won on shop owners not obeying the law4 Anyone can report a smoker via calling or sending a text message to a government hotline in the case of Seoul, the number is 120 with their location address and authorities will raid the reported place, of which a picture of the offending smoker will be taken and fined 100,000 won Disguised authorities also secretly check random places at random times for offending smokers

Since 1 January 2015, tobacco prices have nearly doubled to an average of ₩4,500 KRW, and it is illegal to advertise misleading claims such as "light", "mild", "low tar" or "pure" on cigarette packs56

From December 2016, warning photos such as rotten teeth and black lungs will be mandatory on all cigarette packs7

Discussion is under way at the National Assembly to pass a law that will raise the prices every year pegged to inflation8 The government will pass a law in 2015 to completely ban any form of advertising of cigarettes in convenience stores and make it illegal for tobacco companies to sponsor cultural or sport events9


Smoking is illegal and strictly prohibited in the following premises:

  • Office, multi-use or factory buildings larger than 1,000 square meters in floor area of which offices, conference rooms, auditorium and lobby must be smoke-free
  • Institutions larger than 1,000 square meters in floor area of which classrooms, waiting rooms and lounges must be smoke-free
  • Shopping malls, department stores and underground malls of which any shop selling goods must be smoke-free
  • Hotels and resorts of which the lobby must be smoke-free
  • Universities of which lecture rooms, lounges, auditorium, cafeteria and conference hall must be smoke-free
  • Indoor sports facilities such as basketball and volleyball courts which can seat more than 1,000 people of which the seats and pathways must be smoke-free
  • Social welfare facilities of which the living and working rooms, lounge, cafeteria and conference hall must be smoke-free
  • Airports, bus terminals and train stations of which waiting rooms, domestic flights, cabins, inside trains, subway car and its platform and underground stations and underground pathways must be smoke-free
  • Any vehicle that can seat more than 16 people
  • Public baths of which changing rooms and bathing rooms must be smoke-free
  • Game arcades, comic book renting shops and internet cafes
  • Bars, restaurants, cafes, fast food restaurants and bakeries, regardless of size
  • Baseball or football stadiums which can seat more than 1,000 people of which the seats and pathways must be smoke-free
  • Kindergartens, primary and secondary schools
  • Hospitals and health centers
  • Nurseries
  • Taxis10


In addition to the nationwide ban laws, Seoul designates the following areas must be smoke-free and any spotted smoker must pay a fine of 100,000 won:11

  • All subway station exits 10m around the exits from April 201612
  • Subway station exits in Gwanak District, Seocho District and Yeongdeungpo District 10m around the exits13
  • All parks owned by Seoul city including sidewalks around rivers or streams
  • All bus stops
  • Apartments designated as smoke-free
  • All gas stations
  • Road between Gwanghwamun and Seoul Station
  • Cheonggye plaza at the beginning of Cheongyecheon and Gwanghwamun plaza
  • Insa-dong street14
  • Both sides of the road between Gangnam Station and Sinnonhyeon Station Extended to the road between Gangnam Station and Woosung Apartments in 201513
  • The area surrounding Jamsil Station which includes Lotte World, Lotte World Tower, Songpa-gu Office, Galleria Palace apartments and entrance to Seokchon Lake15
  • Namdaemun street around Myeong-dong14
  • Both sides of the road between Yeouido Station and Yeouinaru Station16
  • Yeongdeungpo Station plaza and both sides of the National Assembly road 21 km16
  • Both sides of the road around the Daechi-dong academy town17
  • Festivals street in Mok-dong around Happy department store18
  • Streets around the entrance of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and Kyung Hee University19
  • Seongbuk and Jeongneung streams, Hanaro street, Amazon street near Mia Elementary School20

Other regionsedit

In addition to the nationwide ban laws, several cities designate the following areas must be smoke-free:

  • Apartment corridors, stairs, elevators and car parks in Gyeonggi-do if at least 60% of residents have agreed to keep them smoke-free21
  • Wolmi-do culture street in Incheon22
  • All bus stops, areas around schools, Lake Park and Hwarang pleasure ground in Ansan23
  • All bus stops, areas around schools and city parks in Seongnam24
  • The entire Busan Citizens' Park25
  • Dongseong street in Daegu26
  • Noeun Station and Yuseong Culture Park in Daejeon's Yuseong District27
  • Sanbon Rodeo Street in Gunpo28

Financial and medical help for quittingedit

People who have successfully quit smoking will receive 50,000 to 150,000 KRW as a financial incentive from the government A 12-week medical help program for quitting is provided at a heavily subsidised cost of 5,000KRW upon the first treatment, reduced to 3,000KRW thereafter Smoking cessation aids such as bupropion, varenicline and nicotin patches are handed out for free at any participating medical center nationwide Anyone in need of consulting smoking cessation can dial a hotline and consult a doctor or specialist29

Residents of Seoul's Seocho District will receive a 5 million KRW cash prize if they have successfully quit smoking30

Prevalence and effectsedit

Reports suggest that persistently high rates of smoking in the military contribute to the high incidence of male smoking, and negate the efficacy of anti-smoking measures, as many men start smoking during their mandatory 2-year military service The Public Health Graduate School of Yonsei University completed a 13-year medical study on 12 million patients and found that about 73% of male smokers and 18% of female smokers contracted lung cancercitation needed There is rising awareness of the health effects of tobacco31 The economy of South Korea loses more than 10 trillion won a year in terms of health-care expenses and lost man-hours due to smoking-related illnesscitation needed

South Korean smoking etiquetteedit

Local smoking etiquette in South Korea is influenced by Confucianism For instance, smokers generally refrain from, or seek permission before lighting up in the presence of social superiors;32 a social superior could be a boss, professor, parent, grandparent, or teacher

See alsoedit

  • South Korea portal
  • Health and fitness portal
  • Smoking in North Korea


  1. ^ a b "Health risks - Daily smokers - OECD Data" oecdorg 
  2. ^ thediplomatcom 2014/08
  3. ^ "10년만의 담뱃값 2000원 인상"흡연률 29%로 낮추겠다"" newstomatocom 
  4. ^ a b KIM BONG-MOON, New Year brings in smoking ban Jan 1, 2015
  5. ^ "South Korea seeks near-doubling of cigarette price - BBC News" bbccom 
  6. ^ Newsis, "새해 첫달 모든 음식점 금연 등 212개 법령 시행:: 공감언론 뉴시스통신사 ::" newsiscom
  7. ^ in Korean 담뱃갑 경고그림 의무화, 13년만에 국회 통과 조세일보 2015/06
  8. ^ in Korean 여권,물가 오른 만큼 담뱃값 올리겠다…흡연 억제 목적 Archived 2015-01-07 at the Wayback Machine 2015-01-04
  9. ^ "편의점 內 '담배 광고' 금지… 올 상반기 法개정" chosuncom 
  10. ^ "No smoking in taxi" koreatimescokr 
  11. ^ http://blognavercom/inuri12Redirect=Log&logNo=100159476243
  12. ^ "지하철 입구 주변서 흡연하면 10만 원 과태료 문다" mkcokr 
  13. ^ a b "서초구, 금연거리 연장 통해 금연구역 5500여 개소 늘어" asiaecokr 
  14. ^ a b "한국아이닷컴!" hankookicom Archived from the original on 2014-04-29 
  15. ^ MoneyToday "서울 송파구, 잠실역 사거리 금연구역 확대 - 머니투데이 뉴스" mtcokr 
  16. ^ a b "국회대로·여의도공원·영등포역 금연거리로" seoulcokr 
  17. ^ "서울 강남구, 금연구역 흡연시 과태료 부과" ytncokr 
  18. ^ "양천구 금연교육 교실로" seoulcokr 
  19. ^ "대학가 금연거리 실효성 논란 - 한국대학신문" unnnet 13 January 2014 
  20. ^ Newsis, "성북구, 가로변버스정류소 금연구역 지정:: 공감언론 뉴시스통신사 ::" newsiscom
  21. ^ "수도권경기도의회 “아파트 복도-계단도 금연구역으로”" dongacom 
  22. ^ "월미도 문화의 거리 '금연거리 말뿐'" itimescokr 
  23. ^ "안산시 공공장소 금연 홍보 캠페인 전개" ajunewscom 
  24. ^ http://news1kr/articles/1479624
  25. ^ wwwhkbscokr "5월 1일 개장을 앞둔 부산시민공원 금연구역 지정" hkbscokr 
  26. ^ http://wwwimaeilcom/sub_news/sub_news_viewphpnews_id=12735&yy=2014
  27. ^ "대전일보 :: 대전 유성구 금연거리 조성" daejonilbocom 
  28. ^ "군포, 중심상업지역 주요 보도 금연구역 지정" anewsacom 
  29. ^ "대통령 한마디에…복지부 "금연 성공땐 인센티브 5만~10만원"" news1kr 16 January 2015 
  30. ^ "르포담뱃값 인상 20일째…'한 대에 무너져요'" asiaecokr 
  31. ^ "Tobacco in South Korea" euromonitor Aug 2010 Retrieved 2011  Check date values in: |access-date= help
  32. ^ Turnbull, James 2010-06-06 "The Gender Politics of Smoking in South Korea: Part 1" koreabridge 

External linksedit

  • Robert Neff Korea and “The World No-Tobacco Day”, June 1, 2010

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