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Smoking officials out (2)

(Global Times)    08:33, January 14, 2014
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Smoke in their eyes

As the world's largest cigarette producer and consumer, China has more than 300 million smokers.

According to a report released in December 2013 by Beijing-based Thinktank Research Center for Health Development, 2.58 trillion of cigarettes were produced in China in 2012.

According to statistics from the Chinese Association of Tobacco Control, 61 percent of male government officials are habitual smokers.

It is those officials who will bear the brunt of the ban, which is also aimed at improving the government's image.

"Some officials smoke in public areas, which not only damages the environment and public health, but tarnishes the image of the Party and government, which has a negative influence," reads the circular.

It bans government officials from using public funds to buy cigarettes. They are also prohibited from offering cigarettes to others or smoking when performing official duties.

But questions still remain over how effective it will be.

China signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2003 which became effective in January 2006. The FCTC requires a reduction in both tobacco supply and consumption. It also stipulates that China should ban smoking in public places.

In the past 10 years since China signed the convention, the overall consumption of tobacco all across the world declined around 10 percent, but in China, it rose 41.8 percent, the highest growth in the world.

China's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) promised to ban smoking in public places, and local authorities have already issued regulations in line with this. But thus far, results have been less than impressive.

A survey by the Chinese health ministry in August 2013, which looked at hotels and restaurants in four regions of China, found that only 6.1 percent had designated smoking areas and only 1.4 had non-smoking signs.

Experts have widely criticized the previous efforts of local governments, describing them as lagging far behind the FCTC standard, and no national law is yet in place banning smoking in indoor public places.

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(Editor:YanMeng、Zhang Qian)

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