left corner left corner
China Daily Website

Tougher law needed to ban smoking at public places

Updated: 2012-12-27 21:58
( chinadaily.com.cn)

Tobacco and smoking control needs not only better rules and regulations, but stricter enforcement as well. However, lax enforcement is a major problem many cities in China have faced in recent years, says an editorial in the Beijing Times. Excerpts:

Recently, eight government agencies, including the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine, jointly issued the country's 2012-15 tobacco control plan. The new plan requires a comprehensive ban in smoking in public places within three years.

Statistics show that over 1 million people die from smoking-related diseases every year in China. The issue of tobacco control clearly is a matter of life and death.

Since China joined the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the number of smokers has actually gone up. What's worse, the number of those affected by secondhand smoke increased more than 200 million in only three years.

One of the reasons lies with the social practice of using cigarettes as gifts or signs of hospitality. In addition, China's tobacco and smoking control lacks legislative support. There has yet to be a national law targeting the harm of tobacco smoking; this curtails motivation to curb smoking.

Although many cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, issued regulations that prohibit smoking in public places, little has been achieved in actual practice. Banning smoking in public places calls for further efforts to highlight the harm caused by smoking and by strengthening law enforcement.

Another problem is that the tobacco tax is that it is one of the major revenue sources for the government. The tobacco industry contributed 498.8 billion yuan ($80 billion) in taxes in 2010, accounting for about 6 percent of the country’s total fiscal revenue of that year.

As a result, especially at some local places, government overreliance on the tobacco economy is an alarming obstacle in the determination of tobacco and smoking control.

Therefore, we should optimize institutional action, and enhance laws and regulations, to promote the transformation of the tobacco industry, to get rid of the financial dependence on it.