Air Force scraps policy to rule out smokers from pilot selection

SEOUL, June 26 (Yonhap) -- The Air Force said Wednesday that it has withdrawn its policy of not selecting pilots who smoke due to concerns that the policy could violate soldiers' human rights.

In early June, the Air Force announced the policy of not selecting smokers for its pilot-training program.

"In accordance with some criticism that the non-smoking policy could infringe on soldiers' basic human rights ... (the Air Force) deleted the clause designed to exclude smokers in the test for picking pilots," an Air Force official said.

But the Air Force's policy requires soldiers under the pilot training program to quit smoking for the two-year duration of the program, the official said. A new rule was also added to ban pilots from smoking during work hours, the official said.

Previously, the Air Force had planned to ban Air Force soldiers' smoking entirely but was forced to drop the plan due to human rights violation concerns.

Instead, the Air Force will have smoking zones in each unit and make efforts to prevent second-hand smoke, another official said.

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