Deputy says anti-smoking drive a drag

Updated: 2013-03-04 10:58

China's anti-smoking campaign has become a drag after a deputy to National People's Congress said she felt powerless to act as little progress has been made in seven years, the Shenzhen based Daily Sunshine reported Monday.

Huang Xihua, the director of Huizhou Municipal Tourism Bureau, has put forward more than 30 proposals on tobacco control in the past five years to the NPC.

Since the Chinese government signed the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Huang said the country should keep her promise and perform as a responsible country, but the anti-smoking campaign is progressing too slowly.

She suggests speeding up legislature on tobacco control in public places and demanding warning signs be added to cigarette packaging.

The deputy has also called for the State Tobacco Monopoly Bureau, which is the lead agency on tobacco control, be removed from the team since the bureau acts as player and referee.

Many cities, including Beijing in May 2008, Shanghai and Hangzhou, banned smoking in public places but in practice the regulation is rarely enforced.

Statistics show that over 1 million people die from smoking-related diseases every year in China.

However, since China joined the WHO tobacco control framework, the number of smokers has actually gone up. The number of people affected by secondhand smoke has also increased to more than 200 million in just three years.

Smoking is deeply ingrained in Chinese culture which is the world's largest tobacco producer and consumer.

Lighting up after a meal is not only normal, but often encouraged in a society where people commonly buy cigarettes as gifts or offer them as a welcome gesture to visiting house guests.