North Korea is waging an apparently tough battle to get its long-suffering citizens to quit smoking, a report said Tuesday.
In a broadcast marking World No Tobacco Day on Tuesday, state television said the government is "taking practical measures to promote the health benefits of giving up smoking".
AdvertisementThe broadcast was monitored by South Korea's Yonhap news agency.
Yonhap said it did not mention the government's stated aim of cutting the smoking rate to 30 percent by 2010 from 56 percent four years earlier -- an indication the goal may not have been achieved.
As part of its campaign the regime passed a law in 2005 to restrict smoking and to ban tobacco advertisements in public places.
Yonhap said the campaign began in June 2000 when state television urged people to give up smoking and use their health to help build a "great, prosperous and powerful nation".
The regime's stated goal is to achieve such a country by 2012, the 100th anniversary of the birth of late founding president Kim Il-Sung.
It is unclear whether the country's most famous former smoker, current leader Kim Jong-Il, has permanently quit the habit despite his stroke in 2008.
In 2009 he was pictured puffing on a cigarette during a tour of a tobacco factory.
The greatest threat to health in North Korea is usually seen as inadequate food supplies and periodic starvation.
UN food agencies, which visited North Korea for a month between February and March, said more than six million people -- a quarter of the population -- needed urgent food aid.