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WHO applauds the Ministry of Health on the "China Report on the Health Hazards of Smoking"

(People's Daily Online)

11:07, May 30, 2012

BEIJING, 30 May 2012—The World Health Organization (WHO) commemorates World No Tobacco Day on 31 May each year. This year marks a milestone in history, as the Ministry of Health released China's first official publication on the harms of smoking. This report should be seen in the context of the country's 12th Five Year Plan endorsed last year by the National People’s Congress, which calls for smoke-free public places as part of the major national goal to increase life expectancy.

Tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of death, in the world and in China. It kills nearly 6 million people worldwide each year, of which more than 600,000 die from second-hand smoke exposure. Every year in China, about 1 million people die from a tobacco-related heart attack, stroke, cancer, lung ailment or other disease.

"The theme of this year’s World No Tobacco Day is tobacco industry interference," says Dr Michael O'Leary, WHO Representative in China. "So far, 173 nations including China have pledged to work together to implement the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. However, these tobacco control efforts are systematically opposed by the tobacco industry. We must fight back."

China has signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and ratified it in 2005. Worldwide the WHO FCTC is the most important tool for parties in the fight against the tobacco epidemic.

In observance of World No Tobacco Day on 31 May, WHO calls on governments and stakeholders worldwide to use the authority of the WHO FCTC to prevent interference on the part of the tobacco industry. Laws for a 100% ban on indoor smoking, restrictions on advertising, promotion and sponsorship, bans on sale to minors, graphic health warnings, and higher taxes for tobacco products will save lives and result in billions of dollars in savings by preventing disease, lost productivity, and death from tobacco use.

"Now is the time for action, to prevent young people from starting to smoke, to help smokers to quit, and to resist the strategies of the tobacco industry to undermine the efforts of the Government and people of China to achieve healthier lives, free of tobacco." Dr O'Leary says.

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