Ban smoking at two sessions, delegates urge

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

Shin Young-soo, the World Health Organization's regional director for the Western Pacific, said that as a signatory country to the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, China lags far behind others in introducing smoke-free national legislation and printing graphic health warnings on cigarette packs.

China is the world's largest producer and consumer of cigarettes. There are more than 300 million smokers in the country, comprising 28 percent of the adult population, and smoking causes more than 1 million deaths a year in China, the WHO estimates.

Ban smoking at two sessions, delegates urge

Special: China's moves against smoking

Exposure to secondhand smoke also kills about 100,000 people in China every year.

Shin said, "Political leaders and health authorities should join hands on policies that could eventually help save thousands, even millions, of lives."

Wu Yiqun, deputy director of Think Tank, a civil society committed to tobacco and smoking control, said, "We want signs banning smoking to be displayed at two sessions hotels, and meeting and dining halls. No smoking utensils, such as ashtrays, should be available."

Tobacco companies are prohibited from giving cigarettes to deputies as gifts, she added.

Shin said, "The WHO welcomes a strong show of leadership from the Chinese government and the commitment it signals in protecting people from exposure to secondhand smoke, which is very harmful."

But he said China needs to overcome "competing interests" such as a long-time dependence on tobacco taxation.

Zhong Nanshan, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Engineering and an NPC deputy, said government support is key to tobacco control and public health.

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