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 similar 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 stated. 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, based on a 2019 report from the World Well being Group. Smoking amongst girls is just about nonexistent, nevertheless.

North Korean chief Kim Jong Un is understood to be a smoker and is steadily seen holding a cigarette when making public appearances. He was filmed taking a smoke break at a railway station in Nanning, China, final yr on his option 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 forex and for bribing officers within the North, which stays beneath heavy worldwide sanctions. A pack of cigarettes can price as much as $20.

North Korea faces a lot of public well being challenges, together with persistent malnutrition and excessive incidences of infectious illnesses similar to tuberculosis. Common life expectancy is 72.1 years, based on 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 consultants outdoors the nation have raised doubts concerning 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 staff needs to be “patriotic working individuals who regard the spirit of economic system as a part of their psychological qualities,” KCNA reported.