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Ban smoking at two sessions, delegates urge

By Shan Juan (China Daily) Updated: 2014-03-01 10:39

Ban smoking at two sessions, delegates urge

The upcoming annual sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference should be smoke-free, according to deputies and political advisers.

"I am still confident that this year will be different," said Wang Longde, vice-chairman of the NPC Education, Science, Culture and Public Health Committee.

He is also president of the Chinese Preventive Medicine Association and a former vice-minister of health.

The association wrote to organizers of the meetings of the country's top legislature and political advisory body, known as the two sessions, urging that they be smoke-free.

Ban smoking at two sessions, delegates urge

Special: China's moves against smoking

The letter was also signed by seven other non-governmental organizations committed to tobacco control and public health.

"It's been two weeks and we've had no response so far, but I am still confident of a positive result," Wang said.

An NPC deputy for six years, Wang said he has been a little disappointed with China's anti-smoking efforts.

"During past two sessions, we saw deputies smoking at their dining tables and at the gate to the Great Hall of the People. Tobacco companies also gave cigarettes to delegates as gifts. This should end," he said.

The letter also said that smoking should be banned at hotels where deputies and political advisers stay.

Huang Jiefu, president of the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control, agreed. "I think that smoking controls must be stricter at the two sessions this year," he said.

Huang is also deputy director of the Committee of Education, Science, Culture, Health and Sports under the CPPCC National Committee and a former vice-minister of health.

Huang cited a notice issued on Dec 29 by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council, requiring government officials to take the lead in making public areas smoke-free, as the reason why he is optimistic about a smoke-free two sessions this year.

The notice said that smoking is strictly prohibited at government or Party activities and events.

"That notice, the first-ever political commitment from the top leadership, gave new momentum to smoking control," Huang said.

"We are now on the right and promising track for smoking controls and I think a nationwide smoke-free law will come soon as well," he said.

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