China fail­ing to stamp out smok­ing

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By SHAN JUAN shan­juan@chi­

China has been do­ing a poor job of curb­ing smok­ing and pro­tect­ing its peo­ple from the “silent killer”, ac­cord­ing to a lat­est re­port by an out­spo­ken civil so­ci­ety com­mit­ted to to­bacco and smok­ing con­trol.

The an­nual re­port — To­bacco Con­trol in China from A Civil So­ci­ety Per­spec­tive 2013 — was com­piled by the or­ga­ni­za­tion Think­Tank and found that the pro­duc­tion turnover of cig­a­rettes on the main­land had in­creased by nearly 50 per­cent over the past decade.

The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment signed the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion Frame­work Con­ven­tion on To­bacco Con­trol 10 years ago, vow­ing to curb to­bacco use, said Wu Yiqun, deputy di­rec­tor of Think­Tank.

“China’s been con­trol­ling to­bacco and smok­ing for 10 years. How­ever, the num­ber of smok­ers and those ex­posed to sec­ond­hand smoke have not dwin­dled at all,” she said.

Sta­tis­tics from the Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion show China has 300 mil­lion smok­ers. Another 740 mil­lion are ex­posed to sec­ond­hand smoke, mostly in pub­lic places.

The smok­ing rate among men is 52.96 per­cent, and more than 28 per­cent of peo­ple older than 15 light up.

No­tably, 1.4 mil­lion Chi­nese die from smok­ing-re­lated dis­eases ev­ery year on the main­land, ac­count­ing for one-third of the world’s to­tal.

China’s in­abil­ity to pro­tect its peo­ple from the smok­ing epi­demic has se­ri­ously tar­nished the coun­try’s im­age abroad, said Xu Gui­hua, deputy di­rec­tor of the Chi­nese As­so­ci­a­tion on To­bacco Con­trol.

Ac­cord­ing to a WHO to­bacco con­trol as­sess­ment re­port, China ranked in the bot­tom 10 per­cent of all FCTC sig­na­tory coun­tries and re­gions in terms of smok­ing bans at pub­lic places and work­places.

The coun­try did even worse in ef­forts to ban to­bacco ad­ver­tis­ing, pro­mo­tion and spon­sor­ship, Xu said.

To­bacco com­pa­nies have moved online to get around bans on to­bacco prod­uct ad­ver­tis­ing in con­ven­tional me­dia like print and broad­cast­ing, Wu Yiqun said.

She cited a web­site called “Yanyue”, where online users can par­tic­i­pate in a jig­saw puz­zle con­test.

When the pic­ture is com­pleted, the logo of a to­bacco brand ap­pears, she said, adding

The num­ber of smok­ers and those ex­posed to sec­ond­hand smoke have not dwin­dled at all.” WU YIQUN DEPUTY DI­REC­TOR OF THINK­TANK, AN OR­GA­NI­ZA­TION AD­VO­CAT­ING TO­BACCO CON­TROL

that win­ners re­ceive free packs of cig­a­rettes.

Yang Jie, deputy di­rec­tor of the To­bacco Con­trol Of­fice of the Chi­nese Center for Disease Con­trol and Preven­tion, said such prac­tices are essen­tially to­bacco ad­ver­tis­ing.

“But reg­u­la­tion over online to­bacco ad­ver­tis­ing re­mains un­de­fined,” he said. He urged the law­mak­ers to rec­og­nize the new trend online and close loop­holes in cur­rent laws and reg­u­la­tions.

An in­ter­na­tional sur­vey of six coun­tries in­clud­ing China, Rus­sia, In­dia and Brazil, which has the high­est smok­ing rate in the world, found that 86 per­cent of Chi­nese chil­dren polled could rec­og­nize at least one cig­a­rette brand.

Wang Ke’an called for re­vi­sions to the law to bet­ter fa­cil­i­tate China’s im­ple­men­ta­tion of the FCTC. Ur­gent tasks for more ef­fec­tive to­bacco con­trol in­clude the in­tro­duc­tion of a na­tion­wide smok­ing ban at all in­door pub­lic places.

A num­ber of Chi­nese prov­inces and cities have en­acted laws and reg­u­la­tions ban­ning smok­ing at pub­lic places but en­force­ment re­mains lax, he said.

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