No consensus on smoking zones

| March 15, 2016

Conflicts between South Korea’s health authorities and smokers have been on the increase as the latter have seen their natural habitat eroded by the rapid expansion of no-smoking zones in outdoor public places, according to a story in The Korea Times.

Smokers have pressed the central government to set up outdoor smoking areas, but the government has not made clear its position on the issue.

Instead the government has left the problem in the hands of local authorities.

But local administrations are having difficulty managing smoking zones. Even the Seoul Metropolitan Government, which is running 26 smoking cabins, had to close temporarily one such facility in front of the Seoul Railway Station in September when people smoked with its doors open.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare is said to have been flooded with petitions from smokers calling for outdoor smoking zones and from local government officials who want clear guidelines on their creation and operation.

The government is in a dilemma, according to a recent report by the National Evidence-based Healthcare Collaborating Agency. If it opposes making outdoor smoking zones, smokers are likely to criticize the government’s no-smoking policy and to oppose even more vigorously further regulations. And such a policy – or lack of a policy – would mean that the decision on where to establish smoking zones would be left to the smokers.

On the other hand, if officials encourage smoking areas or create them, they will be criticized for providing the opportunity for the maintenance of a risky habit.

Category: Breaking News

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