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We all know of countries that owe their smoking bans mainly to one individual. It is usually a health minister, often a physician who has seen all too much of the clinical results of smoking, who persuades fellow ministers to back a tobacco control bill, and has the dedication, political skills and courage, not to mention the energy to see it through the inevitable media and parliamentary storms thrown up by tobacco interests before it finally becomes law. North Korea now has a smoking ban, not mainly but entirely due to the influence of one individual, and not for the usual reasons. Although detailed information does not flow too easily from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as it is officially called, it has been reported that doctors recommended to president Kim Jong-il that he stop smoking (as well as drinking alcohol) and arrange to live and work in a totally smoke-free environment. Thus the home, office and everywhere else visited by Kim Jong-Il, chairman of the national defence commission, supreme commander of the Korean people’s army and general secretary of the workers’ party of Korea, have been made smoke free.
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