One year after North Korea adopted a ban on smoking in public places, the North Hamgyong Province party committee has reviewed compliance with and effects of the ban, and dismissed personnel who have obstructed its implementation.

A source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Nov. 23 that “on Nov. 11, the North Hamgyong Province party committee conducted a meeting with personnel from party, administrative, and judicial authorities about the issue of how the smoking ban has been implemented.”

Over four days from Nov. 2 through Nov. 5, the party committee dispatched inspection teams to various locations within the province to evaluate compliance with the smoking ban. The teams were made of ranking party, administrative, and judicial officials as well as experts.

According to the source, the inspection teams secretly visited public spaces, nursery and educational institutions, public transportation-related organizations, and medical and health facilities – all places where smoking has been banned – to get a detailed grasp of the situation on the ground. The inspections confirmed that some North Koreans still engage in unlawful smoking.

Additionally, inspection teams visited tobacco production plants, state-run shops, market stalls, and other facilities and found that there were violations of laws regarding the production and sale of tobacco.

Kim Jong Un at a military training in 2013
Kim Jong Un at a military training in 2013 smoking a cigarette. / Image: Rodong Sinmun

“At the meeting, they reviewed production and sales records of tobacco plants from the past year and pieced together the actual sales of shops and stalls that sell tobacco,” the source said. “Based on this, it was determined that officials responsible for carrying out party policy were primarily to blame for the problems, and they were sharply criticized.”

The meeting emphasized in particular how harmful smoking is to the people.

Given the fact that “the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, and smokers are at higher risk of severe cases because smoking damages the lungs and airways,” the provincial party announced that it will punish those who continue to violate smoking-related regulations in defiance of common sense.

Accordingly, it was reported that the provincial party identified personnel guilty of following only the letter but not the spirit of the smoking ban and removed them from their posts.

Mismanagement of the provincial Anti-Smoking Research and Education Center were also brought up at the session, and related personnel were dismissed. Some personnel who had made and distributed unreported cigarettes for their own profit were also dismissed.

Additionally, the source said that at schools where the Socialist Patriotic Youth League had uncovered instances of underage smoking, all representatives of the league were dismissed.

The anti-smoking laws were adopted in North Korea on Nov. 4 of last year at a plenary meeting of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly. The Rodong Sinmun described the laws as “rules that all institutions, organizations, and citizens must uphold to bring about a more cultured, sanitary living environment.”

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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to