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Last Updated: Friday, 9 January, 2004, 12:16 GMT
Stub it out, Kim tells Koreans
North Korean TV
"The harm of cigarettes"- TV slogan

North Korea has launched a nationwide anti-smoking campaign after its leader Kim Jong-il reportedly quit the habit and called on his people to follow suit.

Reports in the South Korean media said Kim recently singled out smokers as one of the "three main fools of the 21st century", along with those who are ignorant about computers and music.

North Korean television has carried slogans and programmes telling people how harmful cigarette smoking can be to their health.

"Let's quit smoking and contribute in good health to the building of a powerful nation," Choe Ong-ju, the North's chief public hygiene inspector, urged viewers.

North Korean TV
"Let's quit! Smoking endangers our health!"

South Korean TV quoted experts on the North as saying that although there are no accurate statistics, an estimated 40 per cent of the North's 22 million people smoke cigarettes, one of the highest rates in the world.

Unconfirmed reports have circulated in the Japanese press that Kim suffered a prolonged bout of ill health in late 2003. The North Korean media gave no coverage to his activities for several weeks between October and December.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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