Report: China's smoking ban one of world's least successful

15:38, January 07, 2011      

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An assessment report, titled "Smoking Control and China's Future," was officially released on Jan. 6 in Beijing. Both domestic and overseas experts believe that China's anti-tobacco policies were among the least effective in the world over the period of time covered by the report, according to the Beijing Times.

In the report, China only scored 37.3 out of 100 for its efforts to enforce smoking ban policies, and it ranks near the bottom among more than 100 counties that signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control of the World Health Organization (WHO).

It is China's first report that gathered professional comments from public health, economics, legal and other fields. At the same time, more than 60 well-known experts took part in making the report, including Han Qide, Mao Yushi, Ma Huaide and so on.

Tobacco industry: Main obstacle to smoking ban

According to the report, the unhealthy effects on Chinese men, the group with the highest proportion of smokers for more than 20 years, became more and more apparent starting in 2000.

Currently, there about 1.2 million Chinese people die of tobacco-related illnesses and that number will be 2 million in 2020. Chinese account for 21.3 percent of all tobacco-related deaths in the world. In 2030, the figure is expected to rise to 3.5 million Chinese people, accounting for 43.8 percent of tobacco deaths, and more than 20 million Chinese people will be afflicted by tobacco-related illnesses.

With the increasing number of people who are dying due to tobacco use, costs for treating related diseases are growing too. For the year 2010, the domestic costs for treating smoking diseases were as much as 66.5 billion RMB. Experts predict that the peak costs of tobacco-related diseases would come right the end of China's "demographic bonus," and such costs would only increase quickly year by year.

The report sums up four conclusions on China's smoking ban: First, tobacco control produced little effect within the five years of the Framework Convention coming into force, and the smoking rate remained high. Second, tobacco has already become the No.1 killer of Chinese people

Third, China fell far short of the Framework Convention requirements. Fourth, the obstructionism of tobacco industries is to blame for the failure to control smoking.

Officials should lead anti-smoking efforts

Yang Gonghuan, the vice director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, predicted that Chinese smoking population would remain around 300 million even if the smoking rate decreased 1 percent every year because China's current population is still increasing, and smoking is addictive.

"Party and Government officials should lead the charge against smoking in public and do something useful to try to change the fact that public institutions are the biggest buyers of high-class cigarettes," Yang said.

The report also appeals for legislating relevant laws on banning public institutions from buying cigarettes with public funds and receiving cigarettes as gifts. These laws would encourage and protect those who are helping anti-smoking efforts.

China's tobacco control will change the world

"Only if an all-around tobacco control were carried out in China, the whole world can achieve the goals in the Convention. China's success and failure to control tobacco is actually the world's success and failure, so China has to be a successful model for world," experts wrote in the report. And they also believe that China's tobacco industries can make a transition successfully in the next 20 years.

By Wang Hanlu, People's Daily Online


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