China calls for tobacco control legislation

Updated: 2014-03-12 21:28

BEIJING -- Chinese lawmakers called for speeding up legislation to ban smoking in public places at the ongoing annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), which will conclude on Thursday.

Ma Xu, NPC deputy and director of the institute of science and technology under the National Health and Family Planning Commission, submitted two proposals to the country's top legislature, asking to enact a law that would ban public smoking, and to add an item in the advertisement law to prohibit tobacco advertisements, sales promotion and sponsorships.

China calls for tobacco control legislation
China's moves against smoking

China is home to over 300 million smokers, accounting for nearly 30 percent of the world's smoking population. At least 740 million non-smokers in the country are subject to second-hand smoke, according to official statistics.

In a step toward creating a healthier environment, China has attempted to reduce smoking in public places by initiating a spate of legal and economic measures.

In 2003, the government signed the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which came into effect in 2006.

The FCTC required contracting parties to ban smoking in public areas, such as offices and public transport, reduce tobacco supplies and consumption, ban tobacco advertising and raise taxes.

The country's advertisement law formulated in 1994 banned tobacco advertisements in radio, film, TV, newspapers and magazines, and in four public areas, including sports venues and theaters.

In addition, the Chinese government has made tremendous efforts to prohibit public smoking by setting it as one of the goals for the 2011-2015 period.

Meanwhile, officials are not allowed to smoke in public areas, including schools, hospitals, sports venues and on public transport, according to a December circular from the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council.

But enforcement of these measures has been patchy on the local level, as governments rely heavily on the taxes paid by tobacco companies.

Myriad education and sports ads featuring tobacco products can be found, according to Shen Jinjin, an NPC deputy and director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Yancheng City in east China's Jiangsu Province.

While the consumption of high-end cigarettes has been largely reduced thanks to China's anti-corruption campaign, the mid- to low-end market has managed to attract even more consumers.

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