SEOUL, Oct. 17 (Korea Bizwire) — Illegal sales of cigarettes to minors at convenience stores in Seoul have sharply fallen over the past five years, the government of Seoul said Thursday, citing data on its crackdowns.
According to the data, the ratio of illegal cigarette sales to youth by convenience stores in the capital city dropped from 48.3 percent in 2015 to 37.3 percent in 2016, 32.7 percent in 2017 and 24.4 percent in 2018.
The ratio again fell to 17.8 percent this year, as random undercover shopping conducted at 1,300 convenience stores in June netted 232 violators, the metropolitan government said.
Compared with 2015, the ratio of illegal cigarette sales marked a plunge of 30.5 percentage points, it noted.
The Juvenile Protection Act bans sales of cigarettes to people under the age of 19.
The ratio of convenience stores failing to verify the age of cigarette buyers also decreased from 47.6 percent in 2015 to 17.7 percent this year.
“Higher ratios of ID verifications for cigarette shoppers means stricter observation of the cigarette sales ban for minors,” a municipal official said.
The Seoul government said it has steadily monitored and cracked down on illegal cigarette sales to youth by convenience stores and plans to expand its monitoring to include supermarkets and other retailers.
Thanks to such efforts, Seoul’s youth smoking rate fell to 5.7 percent as of last year, it said, adding that the corresponding national average rate was 6.7 percent.