- Language Tips
There is no denying the harm tobacco causes to human health, so we need determination and corresponding action to ban smoking in public places.
True, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine jointly released a three-year tobacco control plan (2012-2015) on Tuesday.
But the plan, despite being aimed at banning smoking in public places and promoting legislation to this effect, explains how difficult it is to control the use of tobacco. The reason: the tobacco industry accounts for 6 percent of the country's revenue and employs more than 20 million people.
Poor public awareness about the harm tobacco causes to human health along with nonsmokers' disinclination to stop smokers from smoking in public places stand in the way of enforcing the plan. The government's efforts leave much to be desired when it comes to promoting public awareness and enforcing the ban on smoking in public places. Cigarette packets still do not carry any images warning smokers against the use of tobacco. And the latest plan fails to make the requirement of graphic warning images mandatory.
Apart from the legal codes legislated by various local governments on banning smoking and installing "no smoking" signs in public places, there are hardly any specific rules to enforce the ban. Besides, very few smokers have received due punishment violating the ban.
The number of smokers in the country is more than 300 million. More than 52 percent of Chinese men smoke, and alarmingly 15 million of those are aged between 13 and 18 years, according to the Ministry of Health figures.
The harsh reality is that the number of people who suffer the consequences of passive smoking is much higher than the number of smokers.
The size of the tobacco industry and its contribution to the country's revenue are not good enough reasons for the government to drag its feet on tobacco control. The government has no option but to promote public awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco. This is necessary to improve the health of the people and for the healthy development of the country in more ways than one.
(China Daily 12/31/2012 page8)