Bill Gates campaigns against secondhand smoke in China

09:36, June 13, 2011      

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Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates was in China Saturday to raise awareness of the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Gates is partnering with Robin Li, chief executive of Baidu Inc. in a foundation using traditional and online media to pinpoint the dangers of inhaling smoke from the cigarettes of others.

"Both media let people know about the risks of forced smoking and give some education about how in a very polite way they can ask people not to put them in that situation," Gates said at a news conference in Beijing.

According to government statistics, smoking is linked to the deaths of at least 1 million people in China every year, making it one of the greatest health threats the country faces. Nearly 30 percent of adults in China smoke — about 300 million people, a number roughly equal to the entire U.S. population.

More than double that number are estimated to suffer exposure to the risks of secondhand smoke, which include increased asthma attacks, ear and respiratory infections and cancer.

The annual number of smoking-related deaths could rise to 3 million by 2030 without greater efforts, Vice Health Minister Huang Jiefu said, warning that tobacco control efforts in China face a "serious challenge."
"Our country has made progress in controlling smoking, but speaking overall, we still have a tough road ahead," Huang said at Saturday's news conference.

New rules banning smoking in public venues like hotels, pubs and restaurants took effect in May, but still exclude workplaces and fail to specify punishments for violators.

Agencies / People's Daily Online
 
 
     
 
 
 
     
 
 
 
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