SEOUL, Mar. 19 (Korea Bizwire) — Merely lighting up a cigarette in a non-smoking area can be punished by a fine of up to 100,000 won (US$88).
In addition, privacy cannot serve as reasonable grounds to oppose being photographed when caught smoking in a non-smoking area.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare, in new guidelines distributed to local authorities, said that anyone who commits an act that fails to regard non-smoking areas can be subject to a fine.
The offender can be fined up to 100,000 won when caught smoking at public facilities or childcare centers, or 50,000 won for smoking at a non-smoking apartment.
When caught smoking at non-smoking areas designated by local authorities, offenders can be charged up to 100,000 won in fines based on city regulations.
The guidelines stipulate that merely possessing or lighting up a cigarette in a non-smoking area is grounds for punishment.
Guidelines for the implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control states that smoking should be defined “to include being in possession or control of a lit tobacco product regardless of whether the smoke is being actively inhaled or exhaled.”
The act of bringing an unlit cigarette to one’s lips, however, cannot be punished.
People can report smoking violations by taking a photograph.
Privacy law in South Korea states that public institutions are allowed to collect photographs if the practice involves achieving certain tasks stipulated in relevant legislation.
Electronic cigarettes, just like non-electronic ones, are also subject to punishment if smoked in non-smoking areas.
While drugs used in nicotine dependence are not subject to fines, IQOS and other products categorized as cigarettes according to the Tobacco Business Act can result in on-site questioning.
“Some offenders argue that, despite the use of electronic cigarettes, they have been smoking solutions that do not contain nicotine. Nevertheless, if they cannot clearly prove that what they’ve been smoking is not an electronic cigarette, they will be fined and informed of the appeals procedures,” said the ministry.
Authorities believe that foldable tables commonly found in front of convenience stores cannot be seen as non-smoking areas.
However, if they are located within a clear perimeter that makes them part of the operating zone of a restaurant and cafes, they will be seen as non-smoking areas.
Police officers, teachers, and other public officials who are not part of the enforcement team can still report violations to a local public medical center.
The ministry also asked enforcement authorities to inform offenders in advance that they may be subject to 3 years of imprisonment or 30 million won (US$26,500) in fines to prevent them from submitting fake ID cards.
The ministry recommended placing at least one enforcement personnel per 1,000 non-smoking areas for a more effective crackdown on smoking violations.
H. M. Kang (email@example.com)