South Korea to air graphic anti-smoking TV ads

Seoul, Nov 10 (IANS) South Korean health ministry has planned to broadcast a more “explicit” anti-smoking TV commercial starting next week, the media reported on Tuesday.

The current one features ballet dancers expressing the agony of smoking’s side effects through dance movements, The Korea Herald reported.

The new commercial, currently in production, is aimed to curb smoking among Koreans more effectively, using a combination of possibly disturbing images and messages, said Choi Shin-gwang, a ministry official.

“We’ve been told that the current commercial with the ballet dancer is not strong enough,” Choi said, adding “We are trying to come up with a new commercial that is more powerful.”

The new commercial may contain images that may be “painful” to watch, the official added.

South Korea is home to almost 10 million smokers, and an estimated 57,000 are killed each year due to smoking-related diseases including lung cancer.

Last year, the country had one of the highest smoking rates for adult males among the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations, at 43.7 percent, surpassing the OECD average of 26 percent.

The National Assembly last year approved an 80 percent increase in the price of cigarettes in an effort to curb smoking. The new bill took effect on January 1.

Smokers have opposed the measures, claiming it was a way for the government to collect more taxes at their expense.

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