China / Society

Beijing to push publicity on tobacco control

By Wang Xiaodong (China Daily) Updated: 2015-04-14 08:03

 Beijing to push publicity on tobacco control

The Beijing Tobacco Control Association is inviting the public to vote on three stop-smoking gestures. The one on the left has received the most votes so far. Li Feng / China Daily

With only seven weeks until Beijing's toughened legislation on smoking takes effect, about 85 percent of people in the city had still not heard about the new regulation, according to a survey done by Beijing lawyer Liu Ning.

Implementing the regulation, which will take effect on June 1, will be a priority for the Beijing Commission of Health and Family Planning this year, Fang Laiying, director of the commission, said at a news conference on Wednesday.

The commission will intensify publicity and education on tobacco control to improve people's health awareness, and it will enforce the regulation in cooperation with more than 10 government departments, he said.

Yang Jie, deputy director of the Tobacco Control Office of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the government should also give enough financial support for publicity and education in anticipation of the regulation.

"Strict enforcement of the regulation is necessary for it being effectively carried out," he said. "Law enforcement authorities must punish violators according to the regulation so the public will understand that this time the authorities are taking it seriously."

The regulation, which was adopted in November by the Beijing People's Congress, is one of the toughest tobacco control regulations in China. It forbids smoking in all indoor public areas and workplaces, and some outdoor areas, including schools, seating areas of sports stadiums and hospitals for women or children.

Individuals will be fined up to 200 yuan ($32) for violations, a 20-fold increase from the current 10-yuan.

The Beijing Tobacco Control Association is inviting the public to vote on three stop-smoking illustrations on its WeChat account, and the one with the most votes will be adopted, it said.

By Monday evening, the three illustrations had received 1.8 million votes, and one with a girl covering her nose with her right hand attracted more than 1 million votes, making it the most popular gesture.

"I think the regulation will be well carried out as long as the municipal government takes it seriously," Yang said.

However, Beijing should improve publicity of the regulation, he added.

Besides Beijing, 14 major cities in China have adopted tobacco regulations, Yang said.

In November, the National Health and Family Planning Commission proposed China's toughest-ever regulation on tobacco control, including banning smoking in all indoor public places and further restricting the number of places where smoking is allowed outdoors.

"The regulation is still waiting for approval from the State Council," Yang said. "But there is a lot of resistance and it is not likely to be adopted this year."

China has the world's largest number of smokers - more than 300 million - and smoking-related diseases account for 1.36 million deaths every year, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

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