Government pushing to pass legislation to mandate picture-based health warnings of smokingUpdated: 2014-06-12 22:18:31 (KST)
The Korean government is preparing new anti-smoking legislation to bring down the nation's high smoking rate.
A European Union study last year found Korea's smoking rate at second highest among OECD members, barely trailing Greece.
The health ministry said Thursday that it will submit a revised bill to the National Assembly requiring tobacco companies put graphic health warnings on packs of cigarettes.
Currently, written health warnings are only printed on the side of packs.
Just a day earlier, the ministry said it will push to raise taxes on cigarettes, taking in the World Health Organization's recommendations that urge members to raise cigarette taxes to 50-percent.
The price of a pack of cigarettes in Korea has remained the same for ten years or so at about two-and-a-half U.S. dollars, the lowest in the OECD.
The ministry also plans to roll out new anti-smoking ad campaigns by the end of the month.
The government has made a number of moves to reduce the number of smokers in the past, but they have haven't been successful.
Just two years ago, a bill that would have required graphic, visual warnings about the health effects of smoking was opposed by the economy and finance ministry due to concerns about falling revenue.
As a recent report by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs shows Korea has a way to go in strengthening its anti-smoking policies.
Out of 27 countries surveyed, Korea ranked 25th in terms of actively pursuing non-smoking policies.
However, the health ministry is pushing hard to ensure graphic health warnings will be carried on cigarette packs before the year is out.
More than 50 countries already have, or are in the process of, requiring picture warnings be printed on cigarette packs.
Connie Kim, Arirang News.
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