Smoke-free zones spread across Seoul’s districts

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Smoke-free zones spread across Seoul’s districts

This year, Seoul City and its district offices are increasing the number of anti-smoking zones. Yangcheon District revealed on Wednesday that it plans to designate all of its parks as smoke-free this year. Yangcheon enacted legislation on creating smoke- and alcohol-free environments last February.

Seongbuk District is also planning to designate smoke-free zones in areas near Seongbuk Creek, which will be completed in April. This includes the adjacent Design Street. Seongbuk became the first self-governing body to establish regulations on smoking in 2003. Since then, smoking bans have been put in place in 23 parks in the district.

The Seoul City government is also getting involved. Last year, Seoul Grand Park, Seoul Forest Park and Yeouido Park were designated as anti-smoking zones. Thirty-two “Happy Parks for Women,” to be completed sometime this year, will also be joining the growing list.

“Although there are no penalties for breaking the law, we’ve found the label itself is wielding a lot of power in discouraging people from smoking,” said Woo Byung-jin, Yangcheon’s communications director.

Along with the increase in smoke-free zones, smoking cessation clinics are also on the rise. A clinic that opened in 2005 in Yangcheon has proven to be a great success. Over four years, 10,069 smokers checked in, and 40.3 percent of them successfully quit. The clinic defines “quitting” as completing the 6-week program and not starting smoking again for at least six months.

When smokers visit the clinic, a counselor provides them with detailed information on their health, including the level of carbon monoxide in their blood stream.

The clinic also helps patients deal with withdrawal symptoms. For example, participants in their third week receive nicotine candies to help them cope.

Even after they complete the program, the clinic keeps in touch with patients via regular phone calls.

Counselors at Seongbuk’s clinic offer anti-smoking counseling on university campuses and at companies, and give gifts to people who have succeeded in not smoking for six months.

By Park Tae-hee []

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