Experts lobby for smoking ban in Chinese city

08:15, February 24, 2011      

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Renowned Chinese health and legal experts are invited to attend a legislation seminar this Friday to lobby for the passage of a city's smoking ban touted as the toughest in the country with more than 350 million smokers.

The Regulation on the Control of Harm Posed by Second-hand Smoke has been shelved after it went through a second reading by Nanchang Municipal People's Congress last December.

It is rare for a draft regulation to be read twice and yet be shelved for voting by a local legislature. Those who opposed the bill said though it met the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO)'s smoke-free initiative, it was too "tough" and "difficult to enforce" in China.

Li Ai, deputy director of Jiangxi Provincial Center for Diseases Control and Prevention, the seminar organizer, told Xinhua Wednesday that health and legal experts from Beijing and Shanghai will discuss and debate the obstacles of smoke-free legislation with Nanchang local lawmakers and experts.

Li said the regulation provides the most comprehensive protection from second-hand smoke in China and its passage will accelerate the drafting of a national law on tobacco control.

Nanchang's draft regulation requires a total ban on smoking in 11 categories of public places, including offices, schools, medical institutes, public transport, malls, sports venues and Internet cafes if enacted.

The regulation requires the ban to be extended to hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, beauty salons, mahjong houses and other entertainment venues from Jan 1, 2013. Wet markets are also included.

The regulation was watered down during the second reading but health experts say they would lobby for the passage of the original version.

China is the world's largest producer and consumer of tobacco. Deaths caused by smoke-related illnesses are predicted to triple to 3.5 million by 2030, according to an experts' report released in January.

The report, titled "Tobacco Control and China's Future," blasted the tobacco industry's interference at the policy-making stage for the lack of substantial progress on tobacco control in China over past five years.

China ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2003. The treaty took effect on January 2006, requiring signatories to take recommended measures, including a complete ban on smoking in in-door workplaces and public places, to cut tobacco use.

Source: Xinhua
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