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80% of Seoul citizens agree to street smoking ban

A majority of Seoul citizens agree on imposing a smoking ban on streets in the capital, according to a survey of 1,000 citizens earlier this month.

About 80 percent said they would support designating streets as non-smoking areas while 16.9 percent opposed the idea, and 3.9 percent said they do not know, according to a poll conducted by Nam Jae-kyong, a Grand National Party member of the city council, from Jan. 2-6.

The survey is expected to be used as background data on revising an ordinance that curbs second-hand smoke on streets.

“The ordinance revision aims to ban street smoking. Through the survey, we found that most citizens agree with it,” said Nam.

Of the respondents, women as well as non-smokers showed the highest rate of approval at 90.8 percent and 91.5 percent, respectively. Men and smokers who favored the policy were 68.8 percent and 52.9 percent.

Non-smoking advocates picked the unpleasant smell of smoke and its harmful effect on health (33.5 percent) as the main reasons they agree with a ban, followed by how it makes others feel uncomfortable (24.1 percent), concerns of second-hand smoke (17.9 percent), and harm to others (10.8 percent).

Another question about setting a policy for a smoking ban around teenagers and pregnant women received an approval rating of 94.4 percent.

But those who opposed designating more places as non-smoking areas said it suppresses the right to smoke.

Opponents said they disagree with the policy because it oppresses the freedom to smoke (52.8 percent) and it should be implemented after smoking areas are established (23.6 percent).

The rest said there are not enough smoking areas (15.5 percent), and it goes against the government’s tobacco policy (4.3 percent).

Citizens were well aware of the city’s non-smoking policy, as 80.3 percent said they knew the city designated major public places as non-smoking, but 47.2 percent said they did not know that bus stops, parks, children’s playgrounds and gas stations were also non-smoking areas.

The existing no-smoking rule, which took effect last year, levies a fine of 100,000 won ($88) for smoking in major public squares in the capital, including near Cheonggyecheon, Seoul City Hall and Gwanghwamun.

The 314 bus stops located on bus-only lanes in Seoul also were designated as non-smoking zones last year.

By Lee Woo-young  (