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Smoking taxi drivers face fines

Taxi drivers may be fined up to 1.2 million won ($1,000) when caught smoking in their cars.

Seoul City is to announce next month a new ordinance banning taxi drivers from smoking in their cars, said officials Wednesday.

“An increasing number of citizens have been filing complaints about smoking taxi or bus drivers,” said a city official.

“We have decided to take extreme measures to put an end to the inconvenience.”

When caught smoking while driving, taxi drivers, together with taxi companies, are to pay the maximum fine of 1.2 million won.

The city may go as far as suspending the license of those who refuse to pay the fine or delay the payment, said officials.

In November, Seoul banned smoking in all taxis but the order has had little effect as it was not backed by punitive measures.

Also, the revised health law is to take effect on Aug. 28 to impose a maximum fine of 100,000 won for those caught smoking in nonsmoking areas.

In a survey conducted last month by Seoul City on 1,113 citizens, 90.1 percent of the respondents answered that nonsmoking zones should be expanded. Also, 87 percent said that a fine of 50,000 won or more should be imposed on those who break the nonsmoking rule in such zones.

By Bae Hyun-jung (