SEOUL, Nov. 5 (UPI) — North Korea banned smoking in public locations with the intention to create “extra cultured and hygienic dwelling environments,” state-run Korean Central Information Company reported on Thursday.

The regulation, which was launched at a gathering of the Supreme Individuals’s Meeting on Wednesday, prohibits smoking in locations comparable to theaters, well being services and eating places and on public transportation.

The anti-smoking rules purpose to guard lives and well being “by tightening the authorized and social controls on the manufacturing and sale of cigarettes and on smoking,” KCNA mentioned. The report added that the regulation contains penalties for violations, which weren’t specified.

North Korea has excessive charges of smoking, with greater than 46% of males counted as people who smoke, in keeping with a 2019 report from the World Well being Group. Smoking amongst ladies is nearly nonexistent, nonetheless.

North Korean chief Kim Jong Un is understood to be a smoker and is continuously seen holding a cigarette when making public appearances. He was filmed taking a smoke break at a railway station in Nanning, China, final 12 months on his solution to a second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi.

Cigarettes have additionally been reported to be extensively used as a type of foreign money and for bribing officers within the North, which stays beneath heavy worldwide sanctions. A pack of cigarettes can value as much as $20.

North Korea faces numerous public well being challenges, together with continual malnutrition and excessive incidences of infectious ailments comparable to tuberculosis. Common life expectancy is 72.1 years, in keeping with the World Financial institution, greater than 11 years lower than in neighboring South Korea.

Pyongyang continues to say that North Korea has no confirmed instances of COVID-19, though specialists exterior the nation have raised doubts in regards to the declare.

The Supreme Individuals’s Meeting assembly additionally launched a brand new enterprise regulation stipulating that companies should be “labor-, energy-, cost- and land-saving,” whereas workers must be “patriotic working individuals who regard the spirit of financial system as a part of their psychological qualities,” KCNA reported.