North Korean smokers trying to quit are increasingly turning to new government-produced nicotine patches, state-run outlet Arirang-Meari reported on Sunday.
The new nicotine patches were developed by Dr. Pak Yong Hee at the Pyongyang Medical College of Kim Il Sung University, according to media.
Clinical trials have, according to the outlet, shown that smokers who used the nicotine patches quickly lost their desire for cigarettes and could “completely stop smoking after eight weeks of using this quit-smoking product.”
“This smoking cessation product, nicotine patches, is said to be made a hit with the men who try to quit smoking,” state media said.
North Korea claims that there are no female smokers in the country, according to the report released by state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 4 last year and a World Health Organization (WHO) report on the global tobacco epidemic published on July 2015.
The WHO data from the survey said that, as of December 31 2014, 43.9 percent of North Korean adult males smoked tobacco. By comparison, some 42.1% of South Korean men smoke and 52.1% of Chinese men smoke.
Smoking is permitted in bars, restaurants, and cafés in the DPRK and is widely socially acceptable, at least for men. All three of North Korea’s leaders have smoked, and Kim Jong Un frequently appears in state media with a cigarette in hand.
But the 2014 WHO report said that no nicotine replacement tools, including patches, gum, lozenges or inhalers, were legally available in the country.
Video of anti-smoking campaign aired by state-run broadcaster Korean Central Television (KCTV)
It appears to be the first time that official North Korean state media reported on the sale of the nicotine patches, although Tokyo-based pro-Pyongyang outlet Choson Sinbo reported on the smoking cessation product on March 14.
Choson Sinbo said the “highly effective” nicotine patch had been newly developed by the pharmacy faculty of Pyongyang Medical College under Kim Il Sung University and had been introduced in the North where an anti-smoking campaign has been “actively implemented” in line with the global trend of government-encouraged anti-smoking programs.
It’s unclear if the product is same as the one introduced by Arirang–Meari.
The no-smoking campaign was “brisk” in the DPRK, with media focusing on tobacco’s harmfulness, according to a KCNA report on May 28 last year, which claimed a number of smokers were visiting “non-smoking research centers located all over the country.”
KCNA reported on May 17 that the centers were providing consultations and smoking cessation products, including gum, and medicine to treat smoking-related illnesses.
State media stated last year that the effectiveness of the anti-smoking campaign has been “evident in recent years” and the number of nonsmokers is “increasing day by day.”
The ratio of male smokers in 2013 decreased more than 8 percent compared to four years ago, KCNA added.
North Korea joined WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) on April 27, 2005, and marks World No Tobacco Day on May 31 every year.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Rodong Sinmun published on October 2016
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