A lack of government funds and social attention means anti-smoking education efforts are failing, a leading campaigner warned yesterday.
"In China's vast rural areas, public awareness of the damage caused by smoking is very low because of a shortage of information," said Xu Guihua, vice-president of China Tobacco Control Association (CTCA), at a press conference to mark the 19th World No Tobacco Day.
The World Health Organization has called for a ban on cigarette sales and smoking on this day.
"As a non-governmental organization, CTCA wants to educate the public in tobacco control. But without money, what can we do?" said Xu.
A national regulation should be drafted to forbid smoking in public places as soon as possible, she suggested. There are also no national laws or regulations in China to forbid selling cigarettes to youngsters.
Beijing issued a local regulation 10 years ago banning smoking in public areas, but due to weak supervision and poor public awareness, smoking is still rampant in these places.
China has promised to organize a smoke-free Olympic Games in 2008, an event Xu sees as a golden opportunity to raise public awareness.
The Ministry of Health yesterday outlined its intention to work to achieve this goal.
"Smoking will be banned at all hospitals serving the Games at the end 2007, and the ban will be extended to sports venues, public places, public transport and offices during the Games," said Zhang Bin, vice-director of the ministry's Department of Maternal and Child Healthcare and Community Health.
Source: China Daily