Expert pushes for more aggressive smoking ban in China

10:40, March 25, 2011      

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A Chinese expert on Thursday proposed a more aggressive interpretation of the latest tobacco control commitment written into China's newly adopted five-year development plan.

The government promised to thoroughly promote a smoking ban in public areas from 2011 to 2015, according to the 12th Five-year Plan for national economic and social development, approved by the National People's Congress, the top legislature, earlier this month.

"The 'smoking ban' should be seen in three aspects: no smoking seen or smelled inside public venues; no ads, promotions or sponsorships seen or heard in public areas; and no tobacco sold to or by minors," said tobacco control expert Yang Gonghuan at a seminar held in Beijing Thursday.

Yang, who is also the deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that "public venues" should include not only hospitals, schools, work places and public transportation, but also hotels and restaurants.

She further stressed that efforts should be made to improve legislation and effectively enforce laws, conduct tobacco control operations, establish safeguarding measures and establish an independent assessment mechanism.

China has no national law on smoking ban in public places, though less than 50 percent of cities have similar bylaws which are often not well implemented, Jin Dapeng, a national political advisor and former head of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Health, said earlier this month.

One safeguarding measure provided by the Five-year Plan is the separation of administrative powers and commercial entities in special industries like the railway and salt, Yang said, adding that such a rule should be applicable to the tobacco sector.

She also said that tobacco control "is of key importance" and "one of the most cost-effective strategies" in achieving the goal of extending the average life expectancy of Chinese people to 74.5 from 73.5 in the next five years.

A total 301 million Chinese, or 28 percent of the population, smoke cigarettes and 740 million people, including 182 million children, were exposed to second-hand smoke in 2010, according to the report "Tobacco Control and China's Future," released in January by the Chinese CDC.

Smoking killed 1.2 million people in China in 2005, and the number of deaths was expected to reach more than three million in 2030, said the report.

Ministry of Health said Tuesday that the revised regulations on health management in public places, which will take effect on May 1, would ban smoking in enclosed public locations.

The regulations also stipulate that business owners of public places should set up conspicuous non-smoking signs, carry out educational activities to warn people of the danger of smoking, and dispatch personnel to dissuade smokers.

Source: Xinhua
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