With a daily smoking rate of 19.9%, Koreans are considered to be one of the biggest smokers these days. Since more people are exposed to harmful chemicals associated with cigarettes, Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare announced that all tobacco industries will be required to attach warning pictures on their packagings, starting from December 2016.
Last month, the Ministry of Health and Welfare released ten different tobacco warning pictures to the public. According to the ministry, these pictures were carefully selected by 15 experts from different departments including Korean government, medical ministry, judicial circle, press council, and some other welfare organizations.
Released warning pictures contain pictures of actual people who have lung cancer, larynx, stroke, mouth cancer, or heart disease; all due to smoking. The ministry expects tobacco users to be hesitant to smoke when they see horible health consequences.
Korean smokers generally showed positive opinions toward this new government policy. Sang Sub Yoon, who started to smoke at the age of 24 told JSR, “this method seems to be more effective than Korean government’s previous method to double tax on tobacco products. Rather than aggressively forcing us to quit smoking, our government is looking for more friendly and workable ways to prevent cigarette use because more people would “voluntarily” quit smoking when they get to see how cigarette can damage their healths.”
However, not everyone agreed with Yoon’s opinion. Yongwoo Kwon, another smoker in Korea told JSR, “warning pictures on cigarette packages will be ignored by majority of smokers because they can simply solve their problem by buying some fancy cigarette cases.” Kwon added, “it will do nothing but increase the sales of cigarette cases.”
Korea has always attempted to reduce its smoking rates since health concerns related to high smoking population doubled annually, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare. The ministry hopes to see the success of this new attempt to regulate smoking in South Korea.