Smoking illegal in bars, restaurants from Dec. 8

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Smoking illegal in bars, restaurants from Dec. 8

Smoking will be prohibited from Saturday in indoor public areas above a certain size, including restaurants, coffee shops and bars without entertainment, unless they build smoking sections with sealed walls and special ventilation.

Exempted from the ban, however, are clubs, hostess bars and karaoke joints.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said yesterday a bill banning smoking inside public facilities larger than 150 square meters (1,615 square feet) passed a cabinet meeting Monday. The law goes into effect on Saturday.

Individual violators are subject to a fine of 100,000 won ($92), and shops and building owners are subject to a maximum fine of 5 million won if they allow smoking.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said about 76,000 restaurants larger than 150 square meters (and without separate smoking sections) will have to prohibit smoking from this Saturday.

In January 2014, the ban will be extended to public areas larger than 100 square meters, and from January 2015, it will be in effect in all public areas regardless of size.

Coffee shops that generally have tables on terraces for smoking will be forced to remove the tables from January 2015 and use the terraces for smoking only.

Dedicated smoking areas in establishments like restaurants must be sealed and have discrete ventilation systems so the smoky air doesn’t affect the other customers.

The Health Ministry said large public facilities such as shopping arcades and government buildings including the National Assembly and courts will have dedicated smoking areas.

Smoking will be completely prohibited inside and outside medical institutions, day care centers, and elementary, middle and high schools.

By Shin Sung-sik, Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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