SEOUL, Apr. 20 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korean health authorities have announced plans to ban smoking completely at all cafés across the country from July.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare is set to pass an amendment to the National Health Promotion Act by the end of next month, officials said on Thursday.
Under the revised act, smoking will even be banned at cafés with smoking areas. The new rule is scheduled to take effect this July for cafés bigger than 75 square meters, while smaller establishments will be subject to the same rule from next year.
Currently, there are a total of 30 smoking cafes across South Korea, with 13 of them located in Seoul and the surrounding area.
The amendment includes other restrictions on smoking, including a smoking ban in the vicinity of kindergartens.
The new legislation is seen as a major victory for non-smokers, as there are nearly 50,000 daycare centers and kindergartens around the country.
With smoking banned within 10 meters of all the children-oriented facilities, the Ministry of Health and Welfare is hopeful that the new measure will prove effective in tackling exposure to second-hand smoke among children and their parents.
The health ministry will take into consideration public opinion before finalizing the reform bill.
Opinions can be submitted to the health promotion department at the Ministry of Health and Welfare by May 30.
The ban comes with the South Korean government moving aggressively to discourage smoking and amidst a declining smoking rate.
The smoking rate for South Korean men aged 19 or older fell last year and remained below 40 percent for the first time, according to a survey released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month.
Smoking has been on a steady decline from 47.8 percent in 2008 to 40.6 percent in 2015, with the exception of upticks in 2009 and 2016.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)