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Is smoking a crime in South Korea?

Is smoking a crime in South Korea?


Smoking has become one of the most controversial topics worldwide, and it is no different in South Korea. This article aims to provide readers with a comprehensive understanding of the legal aspects of smoking in South Korea.

The Law on Smoking

South Korea enacted a law that bans smoking indoors in public places in 2015. The law requires all restaurants, cafes, and bars to have designated smoking areas that must be ventilated separately from non-smoking areas.

Penalties for Violating the Law

Violations of the anti-smoking law may result in fines. The size of the fine ranges from KRW 100,000 to KRW 5 million depending on the severity of the violation.

The Smoking Culture in South Korea

Despite the anti-smoking law, smoking is still popular in South Korea. It is not uncommon to see people smoking on the streets or in public places where they are not supposed to.

The Effect of Smoking on Health

Smoking is harmful to health and can cause various diseases such as lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke. In South Korea, smoking-related diseases are one of the leading causes of death.

Efforts to Reduce Smoking Rates

The South Korean government has implemented various measures to reduce smoking rates, including increasing taxes on cigarettes, providing smoking cessation programs, and launching anti-smoking campaigns.

The Role of Tobacco Companies

Tobacco companies have been criticized for promoting smoking and downplaying its health risks. In South Korea, tobacco companies have been accused of targeting young people with their advertising campaigns.

The Impact of Smoking on the Environment

Cigarette butts are a significant source of litter in South Korea. They can take years to decompose and release toxic chemicals into the environment.

Smoking and Social Stigma

Smoking is increasingly viewed as a negative social behavior in South Korea. Non-smokers may avoid people who smoke, and smokers may feel ostracized or judged by their peers.

The Economic Impact of Smoking

Smoking is not only harmful to health but also has a significant economic impact. Smoking-related healthcare costs and lost productivity due to illness are a burden on the economy.

The Future of Smoking in South Korea

The South Korean government has set a goal of reducing smoking rates to 29% by 2025. Achieving this goal will require continued efforts to educate the public about the dangers of smoking and enforce anti-smoking laws.


In conclusion, smoking is not a crime in South Korea, but violating anti-smoking laws can result in fines. The government and tobacco companies play essential roles in reducing smoking rates, but ultimately, it is up to individuals to make choices that promote their health and well-being.

Are you allowed to smoke in South Korea?

Smoking in public places such as bars, cafes, subways, and schools has been prohibited since 2013, but there are designated areas where smoking is allowed such as noraebangs, clubs, and pubs. However, after February 8, 2023, smoking will no longer be allowed even in these specified areas.

What is the legal smoking age in Korea?

In Korea, individuals must be at least 19 years old to legally purchase cigarettes. Smoking is prohibited inside restaurants, bars, and cafés with a floor space of more than 150 square meters, but designated smoking areas can be found throughout the city and at major transportation hubs. Cigarettes are available for purchase at most convenience stores.

What is the drug law in South Korea?

In South Korea, it is illegal for citizens to consume drugs, even if they are in a country where drug use is permitted. Specifically, South Koreans are prohibited from using marijuana, even in countries where it is legalized or accepted.

Can I smoke on the street in Korea?

Starting in July 2013, South Korea implemented strict smoking regulations in public areas, imposing fines of ₩100,000 for individuals caught smoking and ₩5 million for store owners who violate the law.

Is vaping illegal in Korea?

In South Korea, e-cigarettes that contain nicotine are considered to be tobacco products and cannot legally be sold to anyone under the age of 19.

Why is smoking so common in Korea?

Koreans face societal, academic, and occupational pressures that cause them to experience stress. Curiously, smoking has become a popular method for Koreans to manage their stress, and it’s not unusual to see office workers smoking during lunch breaks in designated smoking areas.

The Role of Education

Education plays a vital role in reducing smoking rates in South Korea. Schools have implemented anti-smoking programs to educate students about the dangers of smoking and encourage them to make healthy choices. Additionally, the government has launched public education campaigns to raise awareness about the harmful effects of smoking.

The Importance of Support for Smokers Trying to Quit

Quitting smoking can be challenging, and individuals attempting to quit often need support. The South Korean government has implemented smoking cessation programs that provide counseling and nicotine replacement therapy. These programs are essential in helping smokers quit and reducing smoking rates.

The Impact of Smoking on Children

Smoking not only affects the health of smokers but also impacts the health of those around them, particularly children. Secondhand smoke can cause respiratory problems, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It is crucial for parents to understand the dangers of smoking and avoid smoking around their children.

The Role of Technology in Reducing Smoking Rates

Technology can play a significant role in reducing smoking rates in South Korea. Mobile applications that provide support for smokers trying to quit and educational resources about the harmful effects of smoking can be valuable tools. Additionally, social media campaigns can reach a broad audience and raise awareness about the dangers of smoking.


Reducing smoking rates is essential for improving public health and reducing healthcare costs in South Korea. With continued efforts from the government, tobacco companies, and individuals, it is possible to achieve the goal of reducing smoking rates to 29% by 2025. Education, support for smokers trying to quit, and leveraging technology are critical components in achieving this goal. Ultimately, it is up to individuals to make healthy choices that promote their well-being and that of those around them.

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