The proposal has been put forward by the State Council and needs to be passed by the National Assembly, in order to become law. Last year, other enforcement actions against smoking and vaping in public spaces were carried out by local authorities across the country.

Motions against vaping

Additionally, last November Korea’s health ministry also announced plans to conduct its own investigation with regards to EVALI. The results of the investigation are to be released by June 2020, but in the meantime, the public is being urged to quit vaping.

“After coordinating with the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS), we will conduct a full-scale investigation for the ingredient analysis of liquid-type e-cigarettes,” said a health and welfare ministry on announcing the investigation.

Counterproductive measures

A day after the government warning, major convenience store chain GS25 had halted the sales of flavored vaping products by Juul Labs and South Korean company KT&G. Subsequently, the South Korean Army has recently announced a ban on the use and possession of e-liquids on its bases.

Harm reduction experts will certainly agree that such motions will prove counterproductive to public health. While local smoking rates are declining, South Korean men are still among the heaviest smokers in the world. Discouraging smokers from switching to the proven safer alternatives will cost many their lives, especially given the current COVID-19 outbreak, which puts smokers at a higher risk than their non-smoking peers.

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