China / Society

Health workers unaware of dangers of smoking

By Wang Qingyun ( Updated: 2012-07-17 20:42

Medical workers have the biggest misunderstandings about the dangers of low tar cigarettes according to a new report, prompting health authorities to consider a new campaign to educate this group.

Wang Chen, vice-president of Beijing Hospital, addressed a conference on Monday about the findings of a report called Health Hazards of Smoking.

The conference, cosponsored by the WHO Collaborating Center for Tobacco or Health and the Hospital Tobacco Control Panel of the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control, was aimed at raising awareness of the significance of the report and the key conclusions.

The report, that referred to more than 1,200 research papers, was issued by the Ministry of Health on May 30. It is the first official report released by the government to list the dangers of smoking and the benefits of quitting.

The report cites Chinese data from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey in 2010, showing that only 14 percent of Chinese adults were aware that low tar cigarettes are as harmful as regular cigarettes.

The remaining 86 percent either did not know low tar cigarettes are as harmful, or believed low tar cigarettes are less harmful. Among the 86 percent, health workers had the highest rate of misconceptions about low tar cigarettes.

More than 80 percent of health workers surveyed said they were certain of their answer, but only 55 percent of them believed low tar cigarettes were less harmful, despite evidence to the contrary.

"Many of the health workers didn't learn systematically the harm of smoking. They probably chose the answer based on the general dose-effect relationship," said Wang.

According to research published in the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology and The New England Journal of Medicine, 56.8 percent of male health workers smoke in China in 2002, while the figure dropped to 40.4 percent in 2010.

Jonathan M. Samet, professor at the University of Southern California and director of the USC Institute for Global Health, who helped review the report and advised it's authors, said, "I think it's important that they (health workers) become role models for not smoking and they certainly should not smoking in front of their patients. They have to give their patients the opportunity to be advised about how to stop."

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