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Is smoking illegal in Korea?


Smoking is a global issue and Korea is no exception. In recent years, there has been a growing concern about the health effects of smoking and the government has taken various measures to discourage smoking. In this article, we will discuss whether smoking is illegal in Korea or not.

The history of smoking in Korea

Smoking has a long history in Korea, dating back to the 16th century. It was initially used for medicinal purposes but later became a popular social habit. However, with the rise of health concerns related to smoking, the government has implemented various policies to reduce smoking rates.

The current state of smoking in Korea

Despite efforts to reduce smoking rates, smoking is still prevalent in Korea. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, as of 2018, the smoking rate among adults was 26.4%. This is a decrease from previous years but still a concerning figure.

The laws on smoking in public places

Korea has strict laws on smoking in public places. Smoking is prohibited in all indoor public areas, including restaurants, cafes, and bars. It is also prohibited in outdoor areas such as parks and bus stops. Violators can face fines up to 100,000 won.

The laws on selling tobacco products

The sale of tobacco products is strictly regulated in Korea. Only licensed retailers are allowed to sell tobacco products and they must display warning labels on all packaging. The minimum age for purchasing tobacco products is 19 and violators can face fines up to 3 million won.

The laws on advertising tobacco products

Advertising tobacco products is also strictly regulated in Korea. All forms of advertising, including billboards, TV commercials, and sponsorships are banned. Violators can face fines up to 50 million won.

The impact of smoking on health

Smoking has been linked to numerous health problems such as lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Secondhand smoke is also harmful and can cause respiratory problems in non-smokers.

The economic impact of smoking

Smoking not only has a negative impact on health but also on the economy. According to the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, the economic cost of smoking in Korea is estimated to be over 9 trillion won per year.

The government’s efforts to reduce smoking rates

The Korean government has implemented various policies to reduce smoking rates. These include raising taxes on tobacco products, implementing graphic warning labels on packaging, and providing smoking cessation programs.

The effectiveness of these policies

While these policies have had some success in reducing smoking rates, there is still room for improvement. The government could consider implementing even stricter laws and increasing funding for smoking cessation programs.

The cultural significance of smoking in Korea

Smoking is still seen as a social norm in Korea, especially among older generations. This cultural significance may make it difficult to completely eradicate smoking in Korea.


In conclusion, while smoking is not illegal in Korea, there are strict laws and regulations in place to discourage smoking. The government has implemented various policies to reduce smoking rates but there is still work to be done. Overall, it is important for individuals to be aware of the health risks associated with smoking and for the government to continue its efforts to reduce smoking rates.

Is it legal to smoke cigarettes in Korea?

To legally purchase cigarettes in South Korea, you must be at least 19 years of age and may be required to provide identification. Typically, convenience stores and marts do not ask for ID when purchasing cigarettes. This information was last updated on June 25, 2020.

What age can you smoke in Korea?

You can buy cigarettes at almost any convenience store, but the legal age for smoking in Korea is 19 years old.

What country doesn’t allow smoking?

Bhutan was the first country to completely ban smoking in public places on February 22, 2005. This was done through the enactment of the Tobacco Control Act by parliament on June 16, 2010.

Can I smoke on the street in Korea?

From July 2013, South Korea has implemented rigorous smoking restrictions in public areas, imposing fines of ₩100,000 on individuals caught smoking and up to ₩5 million on businesses that do not comply with the regulations.

Does Korea allow vape?

It is legal to bring your vape to Korea and although opinions are mixed, many people believe that E-juice is more expensive in Korea. Consequently, some individuals opt to bring their own supply.

What is Korea’s drinking age?

The age at which it is legal to drink alcohol in South Korea is 19 years old, which may seem unusual but is consistent with the drinking age in many other Asian countries, such as Japan.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that there are some cultural and social factors that contribute to the prevalence of smoking in Korea. Smoking is often seen as a way to relieve stress or socialize with others, and it is commonly portrayed in Korean media as a symbol of masculinity. These cultural attitudes can make it difficult for individuals to quit smoking, even if they are aware of the health risks.

Despite these challenges, there are many resources available for those who want to quit smoking in Korea. The government offers free smoking cessation programs, and there are many private organizations that provide support and resources for those who want to quit. In recent years, there has also been a growing trend of “smoke-free” campuses and workplaces, which aim to create environments that discourage smoking.

Ultimately, the fight against smoking in Korea is an ongoing one. While there have been some successes in reducing smoking rates, there is still much work to be done to create a healthier and smoke-free society. This will require continued efforts from both the government and individuals to promote awareness of the health risks associated with smoking and provide resources and support for those who want to quit.

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