Passive smoking kills 100,000 Chinese annually

Updated: 2007-05-30 08:49

BEIJING -- About 540 million Chinese are suffering the effects of passive smoking and more than 100,000 of them die annually from diseases caused by passive smoking, according to the Ministry of Health.

The ministry's 2007 Report on China's Smoking Control, said to be the first of its kind in China, quotes a survey in which only 35 percent of respondents were aware of the dangers of passive smoking.

Most misunderstood the issue and some thought that indoor smoking had little impact on their health when the room was ventilated.

The report quoted an early survey, saying that about 82 percent of passive smoking happened at home, and 67 percent at public venues and 35 percent at work places.

It also said that people in rural areas are suffering more from passive smoking than those in the cities. Qinghai, Gansu, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Jilin and Inner Mongolia had the most serious picture, with more than 60 percent of respondents there claimed to be regularly suffering more passive smoking.

China is the world's largest tobacco producing and consuming country, accounting for more than a third of the global total on both counts.

The report estimated that China has more than 350 million smokers and nearly one million die from smoking-related diseases each year.

"We hope the report can promote authorities to institute and implement laws or regulations to prevent passive smoking inside public buildings," said Yang Gonghuan, deputy director of the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

In August 2005, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's legislature, ratified the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The treaty requires a ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship on radio, television, print media and the Internet within five years and prohibits tobacco sponsorship of international events and activities.

Following the approval of the Convention, China has revised relevant regulations to ensure that it is well implemented. The government has also banned smoking on public transport.

To promote "Green Olympics," the health ministry has called on the cities hosting Olympic games to issue a tobacco-free games plan to ban smoking at Olympic venues.

Wang Longde, vice health minister, said that the central budget allocated special funds to local governments to support programs on smoking control in 2006 and 2007. But he did not disclose the sum.

He said the ministry has started nationwide training on tobacco control since 2006 and so far 48 intervention projects have been piloted in urban and rural areas to promote tobacco-free communities and villages.

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