Cigarette butt litterers face stiffer penalties
By Alexander Ahn
Cigarette butts are all too common a sight on city streets. Which is why starting July, Korea will crack down on drivers who throw cigarette ends from their car windows.
The Ministry of Public Administration and Security announced Wednesday that it intends to end the habit after a grace period of a month, by having traffic police concentrate on catching perpetrators.
“When drivers toss cigarette butts out of their car windows, it is not only environmental pollution but also presents a potential fire hazard, and can cause traffic accidents,” said Jeong Jong-je, a ministry official. “We will take aggressive measures to stop this dangerous act.”
The ministry plans to raise the current fine of 30,000 won to 50,000 won, and strengthen the level of punishment against offenders. It also aims to revise relevant provisions and regulations, and make it easier for citizens to report any witnessed acts.
The ministry, together with the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the National Police Agency, conducted a nationwide survey of 1,002 adults from May 21 to 24 titled, “Social Survey on Smoking While Driving.” The survey’s results were made public on World No Tobacco Day, which fell on May 31.
According to survey statistics, 97.3 percent of respondents believe that enforcement and penalties are needed for discarding cigarette butts while driving. While 82.3 percent are opposed to smoking behind the wheel and 37.6 percent think doing this increases the risk of accidents and 30.5 percent of participants say that cigarette butts contribute to pollution.
Regarding opinions on fines and enforcement, a majority of 50.9 percent agreed that there is a need for greater penalties and more enforcement, while 37.8 percent believe that the current level of penalties should be maintained, and enforcement strengthened.