Majority Chinese applaud Beijing's smoking ban

(Xinhua)
Updated: 2008-04-29 09:12

As high as 90 percent of the Chinese public applauded Beijing's smoking ban in public places, to take effect on May 1, however some are concerned if the ban can be implemented effectively, a survey has shown.

The survey by the China Youth Daily and sina.com.cn, covering 5,482 netizens, also revealed that 52 percent of the smoking population agreed with the ban while 37 percent opposed it.

A student smoker at Peking University said he was "certainly unhappy about the ban" but as the ban was to benefit others he would not strongly oppose it.

The capital city will ban smoking in most public places starting from May 1 -- a big step toward tobacco control in a nation of 350 million smokers. The move will also meet China's pledge of a smoke-free Olympics.

The on-line survey showed half of the surveyed local residents know of the Beijing smoking ban, and less than 22 percent think it will be enforced effectively.

The survey showed that 90 percent of the respondents believed ubiquitous passive smoking would bring harm to non-smokers' health. More than 72 percent said smokers could well quit smoking after the ban was imposed next month.

Chinese health experts estimated that passive smoking has affected about 540 million people out of the country's 1.3 billion population.

Passive smoking, especially in public places, has been a serious health problem in China, The involuntary inhalation of smoke from tobacco products, could increase the incidence of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and even lead to lung cancer.

About 86 percent of the public believed the facts that 5 million people worldwide died of smoking-related diseases, which ranked the second in all causes of death, the survey showed. Less than 44 percent said they knew of someone who had died of smoking-related diseases.

The survey found that 54.8 percent of smokers were concerned about their health but 10.4 percent do not worry it at all.

Despite the ban, 65 percent of the respondents worried about the influence of TV plays containing smoking scenes on young people, and another 65 percent worried smoking is hardly avoided in cybercafes.

Earlier this month, the city relented its proposed smoking ban in public places by excluding restaurants, bars and cybercafes after complaints by business owners.

These places will only have to separate smoking from non-smoking areas from May 1, according to the new regulation.

Major cities including Shanghai, Guangzhou and Qingdao are also mulling amendments of laws on public smoking as part of a nationwide campaign in the run-up to the Olympics.

Health experts in Beijing said they hope the city is used as a springboard for drafting a national tobacco control law.

Beijing banned smoking in taxis last October.

Smoking claimed nearly one million people's lives in 2000, accounting for 12 percent of the year's total deaths in China. Without further control measures on smoking, the ratio will rise to 33 percent by 2020 with the death toll reaching two million, Kong Lingzhi, a Ministry of Health official was quoted as saying by earlier reports.



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