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Can I smoke on the street in Korea?

Can I Smoke on the Street in Korea?

Smoking is a controversial topic in many countries, and Korea is no exception. If you’re a smoker planning to visit or live in Korea, you might be wondering whether you can light up on the street. Here’s what you need to know.

The Legal Framework

Firstly, it’s important to understand the legal framework around smoking in Korea. In 2015, the government passed a set of laws known as the National Health Promotion Act, which aimed to reduce smoking rates and protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke. This act prohibits smoking in indoor public places, including restaurants, cafes, and bars, as well as public transportation like buses and trains.

Outdoor Smoking Regulations

So, what about smoking outdoors? The law doesn’t explicitly ban smoking on the street, but there are some restrictions to be aware of. For instance, smoking is prohibited within 10 meters of any public building entrance or exit. This includes places like hospitals, schools, and government offices.

Enforcement of Outdoor Smoking Regulations

You might be wondering how strictly these outdoor smoking regulations are enforced. The answer is that it varies depending on the location and time of day. In some areas, you might see signs reminding people not to smoke near entrances, while in others there may be no signage at all.

Cultural Attitudes Towards Smoking

Another factor to consider is cultural attitudes towards smoking. Despite the government’s efforts to reduce smoking rates, smoking is still relatively common in Korea. However, it’s worth noting that attitudes towards smoking are changing among younger generations, who are more likely to view smoking as a negative habit.

Alternatives to Smoking on the Street

If you’re a smoker looking for alternatives to smoking on the street, there are a few options. Firstly, many cafes and restaurants in Korea have designated smoking areas outside. Alternatively, you could try using an e-cigarette or nicotine patch to satisfy your cravings without breaking any laws.

Smoking Cessation Support in Korea

If you’re interested in quitting smoking altogether, there are resources available to help you. The Korean government offers a smoking cessation program called “Quitline,” which provides counseling and support to people trying to quit smoking.

Social Stigma Around Smoking

Aside from legal restrictions, it’s worth noting that there is a social stigma around smoking in Korea. Non-smokers may view smokers as inconsiderate or disrespectful, and smoking in public can be seen as a sign of poor manners.

Health Risks of Smoking

Of course, the most important consideration when it comes to smoking is the impact on your health. Smoking is linked to a range of health problems, including lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Quitting smoking can significantly reduce your risk of developing these conditions.

Impact on Others

It’s also worth considering the impact of smoking on others around you. Secondhand smoke is a known carcinogen and can cause a range of health problems for non-smokers who are exposed to it regularly.


So, can you smoke on the street in Korea? Technically, the answer is yes – as long as you stay at least 10 meters away from any public building entrance or exit. However, it’s worth considering the legal restrictions, cultural attitudes, and health impacts before deciding whether or not to light up.

Resources for Quitting Smoking in Korea

If you’re interested in quitting smoking, here are a few resources available in Korea:

  • Quitline (National Health Insurance Service): 1544-9030
  • Smokefree Korea (Korean-language website):
  • Smoking Cessation Clinics (Korean-language website):

Is smoking in public allowed in Seoul?

Since 2013, smoking has been prohibited in public areas such as bars, cafes, subways, and schools. However, there are designated areas where smoking is still allowed, such as noraebangs, clubs, and pubs. This law is still in effect as of February 8, 2023.

Can you smoke in public places in Korea?

No smoking signs are more prevalent than designated smoking areas, making it difficult to know where it is acceptable to smoke. Observing the behavior of others or looking for ashtrays can help indicate where smoking is allowed. Smoking indoors is also not allowed in South Korea.

Is smoking common in South Korea?

Numerous surveys have been conducted to determine the rate of smoking in South Korea. The World Health Organization’s 2017 report found that around 49.8% of Korean adult males and 4.2% of Korean adult females were smokers in 2015.

Can we kiss in public in Seoul?

In South Korea, showing public displays of affection, such as kissing, is frowned upon and considered indecent by older generations. While the younger generation is more accepting of it, it is still discouraged by elders. Wearing fashionable clothing is highly valued in South Korea and is seen as a sign of showing respect.

How do you ask for cigarettes in Korea?

When asking for a cigarette, people usually use phrases such as “(실례지만) 담배 하나 빌릴 수 있을까요?” or “(미안하지만) 담배 하나 빌려도 될까요?” which both translate to “May I borrow a cigarette?”. This is a common way of asking for a cigarette politely.

Is vape allowed in Korea?

It is legal to bring your vape with you to Korea, and while opinions differ, most people agree that E-juice is more costly in Korea, so some individuals choose to bring their own supply.

It’s also important to note that smoking can be an expensive habit in Korea. In recent years, the government has increased taxes on cigarettes, making them more expensive for smokers. This is another reason why some people choose to quit smoking altogether.

Additionally, smoking can have an impact on your social life in Korea. As attitudes towards smoking change, you may find that fewer people are willing to spend time with you if you smoke. This could make it harder to meet new people or form friendships.

If you do choose to smoke in Korea, it’s important to be respectful of others around you. This means avoiding smoking near children, pregnant women, and anyone else who may be particularly sensitive to secondhand smoke.

Overall, while smoking on the street is technically allowed in Korea, there are many factors to consider before lighting up. Whether you’re a smoker or a non-smoker, it’s important to be aware of the legal restrictions, cultural attitudes, and health impacts of smoking in Korea.

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