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Seoul to ban smoking at bus stops, public parks

All Headlines 09:33 February 14, 2011

SEOUL, Feb. 14 (Yonhap) -- Seoul will expand its "no-smoking zone" to include bus stops and neighborhood parks, starting next year, stepping up efforts to heighten public awareness of the health hazards from secondhand smoking, officials said Monday.

Under the toughened policy, those caught smoking at bus stops or neighborhood parks in Seoul will be fined 100,000 won (US$89) from 2012, said the officials at the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

The municipal government said that 5,715 bus stops, 1,024 neighborhood parks and areas within a 50-meter radius from all elementary, middle and high schools in the capital will be additionally designated as no-smoking zones starting next January.

Offenders will be fined 100,000 won based on ordinances soon to be established by all autonomous districts under the control of the metropolitan government, it said.

Last year, the city government set up its own non-smoking ordinance that will impose the same 100,000 fine on those who smoke in three public plazas in the city center -- Cheonggye, Seoul and Ganghwamun -- beginning on June 1.

The metropolitan government plans to declare as non-smoking areas 23 city-run parks in September, and 295 bus stops along bus-only lanes in the capital in December. It is unclear whether the city will give a three-month grace period before enforcing the rule.

As the rate of residents answering in annual surveys that they have suffered damage from secondhand smoking has risen from 92.4 percent in 2009 to 97.5 percent last year, the local government aims to reduce the rate to below 85 percent by 2014. It also wants to lower the percentage of smokers among Seoulites from 24.3 percent in 2009 to 20 percent or less by 2014.

sshim@yna.co.kr
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