South Korea’s top court has ruled that the country’s tobacco business legislation is constitutional, saying that there is no proof that smoking always causes lung cancer, according to a story in The Korea Herald.
The ruling came amid a heated public debate over whether tobacco smoking should be seen as a serious public health threat or as a question of individual rights.
In a seven-to-two decision, the Constitutional Court ruled against nine petitioners, saying that the legislation did not infringe on an individual’s right to health because there was no definite link between habitual smoking and lung cancer.
Even though there was a correlation between smoking and lung cancer, it was not such as to force the government to ban the tobacco business. Lung cancer stemmed from diverse factors.
The court added that the government had paid due attention to public health, noting that it had been closely watching the tobacco industry and had made it mandatory that companies put cautionary images or warnings on cigarette packs.
In 2012, the petitioners, including lung-cancer patients and medical experts, filed a lawsuit against the nation arguing that the legislation was unconstitutional because it enabled the government to allow the sale of tobacco products that undermined public health.
Park Jae-Gahb, one of the petitioners and a professor at the National Cancer Center, expressed his frustration over the ruling. “Smoking is closely related to diseases like lung-cancer and it is a medically proven fact,” he said. “Banning the tobacco business is the ultimate solution.”