Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

A smoke-free China is a healthy China

By BERNHARD SCHWARTLÄNDER (China Daily) Updated: 2016-03-03 08:10

The first and most obvious step is to replicate the success of Beijing's smoke-free law nationwide. A very good draft national tobacco control law has been on the table at the State Council, China's Cabinet, for more than a year. Adoption of this law would be a huge step forward in support of the goal of a "Healthy China".

The World Health Organization calls on Chinese leaders and legislators to push it up the priority list and get it passed.

The public support smoke-free public places. All available data suggest that the Chinese people would strongly support a law making indoor public places 100 percent smoke-free. It's important here to say that the anti-smoking message from China's First Lady Peng Liyuan and co-founder of Microsoft Bill Gates was widely circulated on Chinese social media recently-that this particular image was so popular is a strong signal that there is public readiness for change.

NPC delegates and CPPCC National Committee members are witnessing firsthand the benefits of a smoke-free environment while in Beijing. They and the people they represent should be able to enjoy the same freedom from second-hand smoke back home.

A firm foundation has been laid with recent victories in the fight against tobacco with the success of Beijing's no-smoking law, last year's tax increase on cigarettes, and the restrictions placed on tobacco advertisement in the new Advertising Law. Each of these would have been unimaginable even five years ago; and all are significant achievements. But they are not enough-a "Healthy China" needs a national no-smoking law.

The author is WHO representative in China.

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