Seoul plans big increase in no-smoking zones

Seoul will expand no-smoking zones to cover one-fifth of its area by 2014, the municipal government said Friday, as part of a clampdown in a city once noted for its tolerance for smokers.

High school students walk past a stock index board as they visit the Korea Stock Exchange in Seoul on October 28, 2011.

Over the next three years smoking will be banned in 21 percent of the South Korean capital's 605-sq km (242-sq mile) area, including 1,305 school zones, 1,910 parks and 5,715 bus stops.

The city government said in a statement that after 2014, it would consider banning smoking in all public outdoor areas except for designated zones.

Seoul this year banned smoking in three major plazas and 20 parks to try to reduce the risk of second-hand smoke. Offenders face a fine of 100,000 won ($90).

The city also plans to designate 298 bus stops as non-smoking areas next month.

Data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development shows that 44.3 percent of South Korean men smoked as of 2009, higher than the average among all its member nations of 26.5 percent.

Cigarettes remain cheap, with a pack often costing around 2,500 won ($2.24).

AFP

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