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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Draft regulation adds anti-smoking measures

By Zhao Yinan and Zheng Xin (China Daily)

08:37, March 27, 2012

Beijing is considering banning cigarette sales on World No Tobacco Day each year, and it proposes adding to the list of no-smoking areas, under a draft regulation to be published this month to solicit public opinion.

Cigarette sellers in the Chinese capital would have to suspend sales on May 31, World No Tobacco Day, under the draft regulation.

The proposal will be ready for public comment from Friday until the end of April.

Aside from the ban on cigarette selling, the draft also proposes adding to no-smoking areas by including outdoor areas of hospitals, universities and places where most people are juveniles.

Ticket offices and waiting lounges at bus and railway stations where smoking is not explicitly banned in the city's anti-smoking regulation are also included in the no-smoking areas in the draft.

Beijing's current anti-smoking regulation, which was introduced in 1996, was last revised in 2008 ahead of the Olympics.

Ying Songnian, a legal professor at China University of Political Science and Law and director of the drafting panel, said the regulation would balance the right of smoking for smokers and the right of health for non-smokers.

China, the world's top tobacco producer and consumer, has about 350 million smokers, 35 percent of the world's cigarette smokers. The country also has 740 million people exposed to secondhand smoke.

About 1.2 million Chinese a year die from tobacco-related diseases, Deputy Minister of Health Huang Jiefu said last month.

Noting that law enforcement is the biggest challenge, Ying said the proposal suggested recruiting volunteers and social groups to join the supervision work and offer financial rewards to people who performed outstanding work in the control of smoking.

The National Bureau of Statistics said China's tobacco sales revenue exceeded 1 trillion yuan ($159 billion) in 2011.

Suo Chao, spokesman of the Chinese Association for Tobacco Control, said China's tobacco tax rate is the third-lowest in the world.

"The cigarette is a cheap consumption product in China, with the tobacco tax rate being 36 percent," Suo said. "The low tax rate is definitely one of the reasons for the popularity of cigarettes in the country."

However, Suo finds that banning cigarette sales for a day, though well-intended, is more symbolic than a vigorous measure to cut back the prevalence of tobacco.

"Some cities, including Hangzhou, in Zhejiang province, and Anshan, in Liaoning province, have a similar regulation," Suo said. "It's well-meant but hardly any effect can be shown from a one-day resolution."

After soliciting public comment, the municipal legislature will start drafting an amendment to the anti-smoking regulation based on Ying's proposal, but the exact time to start the work is still unknown.


Leave your comment1 comments

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Rior at 2012-04-1124.215.200.*
Individuals do not have a right to light up in the first place as smoking causes lung cancer and causes death not only for the smoker and non-smokers. The Central Government MUST close down all tobacco factories. Prevention is better than cure.

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