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South Korea: fighting it on the beaches
  1. David Simpson

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    During the summer, the South Korean government organised one of the most concentrated efforts ever seen to target people on holiday, on the basis that the relative state of relaxation and healthy, outdoor surroundings they were in would predispose smokers to try to stop smoking. Health authorities operated smoking cessation clinics on popular beaches across the country this summer, as part of an anti-smoking campaign aimed at holidaymakers. Along with the pleasures of sun and sea was the chance to make the seaside air even fresher by getting help to stop smoking.

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    One of the no smoking posters distributed by South Korea’s ministry of health and welfare during the summer. The message reads, “Are you going on holiday? Leave your cigarettes at home”.

    As an added incentive, smokers were also offered free medical check-ups. Anyone interested in stopping smoking was first asked to answer a short questionnaire, including questions designed to assess their nicotine dependence, and their exhaled carbon monoxide was measured. This was followed by a consultation with a doctor. Those who agreed to stop smoking were asked to make a pledge to do so in front of their family, and handed a free folding fan, printed with a parody of the work of a famous 18th century painter, Kim Hong-do, encouraging them to put tobacco behind them. On several beaches, leading sand sculpture artists were commissioned to build anti-smoking works.

    In a further effort to reach people on holiday, to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking, health ministry officials targeted those on the move. Water bottles printed with anti-smoking messages were distributed to drivers at 450 highway fuel stations, and 45 000 booklets on how to stop smoking were distributed in trains departing from main stations in Chongnyangni and the capital, Seoul. The 28 page pamphlet was also distributed at banks, government offices, and health centres across the country.