Law should ban smok­ing in pub­lic places

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Front Page -

IN ITS PANEL DIS­CUS­SION on the draft of the Pro­mo­tion Law on Ba­sic Med­i­cal Treat­ment and Pub­lic Health be­ing re­viewed by the leg­is­la­ture, ex­perts of the Chi­nese As­so­ci­a­tion on Tobacco Con­trol sug­gested chang­ing “smok­ing in pub­lic places should be con­trolled” to “smok­ing in in­door pub­lic places, in­door work places and pub­lic trans­port must be banned”. Le­gal Daily com­ments:

The sug­gested re­vi­sion is not only rea­son­able but also ur­gently needed, as China has not made break­throughs in its tobacco con­trol since it signed the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Tobacco Con­trol in 2003 — the coun­try’s smok­ing rate has re­mained largely un­changed at about 27 per­cent, and 740 mil­lion peo­ple suf­fer from sec­ond­hand smoke. It is es­ti­mated at least 1 mil­lion peo­ple die of dis­eases re­lated to smok­ing in China each year.

Last month, the China Tobacco Cor­po­ra­tion urged its lo­cal branches to try to ful­fill the an­nual sales ob­jec­tive of 47.38 mil­lion boxes of cig­a­rettes — each box con­tains 50,000 cig­a­rettes, which has re­mained sta­ble, if not slightly in­creased, over th­ese years. The fight against tobacco use has al­ways been an uphill bat­tle as the State-owned in­dus­try has a strong say over any ef­forts that might af­fect its busi­ness, for it is a re­li­able source of gov­ern­ment rev­enue and a large job cre­ator.

The Healthy China 2030 plan, adopted by the cen­tral au­thor­i­ties in 2016, pro­poses to re­duce the smok­ing rate from 27 per­cent to 20 per­cent. Anti-smok­ing

leg­is­la­tion is nec­es­sary to re­al­ize that ob­jec­tive. If the sug­gested re­vi­sion can be adopted — from “should be con­trolled” to “must be banned” and also the cat­e­gories of the pub­lic place where sec­ond­hand smoke is mostly se­ri­ous are spec­i­fied — it will rep­re­sent a big step for­ward in China’s tobacco con­trol en­deavor.

If the re­vi­sion be­comes law, a num­ber of lo­cal laws and rules on pub­lic health and tobacco con­trol will be amended. The cur­rent word­ing of “should be con­trolled” would give the lo­cal law­mak­ers too much space to turn a blind eye to the prob­lem, which is an im­por­tant rea­son why tobacco use has not been put un­der ef­fec­tive con­trol till now.

Hope­fully, the re­vi­sion can be en­dorsed and strictly im­ple­mented with sup­port­ing su­per­vi­sory and puni­tive mea­sures, which wait to be writ­ten into the law, so as to en­dow the law with de­ter­rent forces to thwart smok­ing in pub­lic places.

Also, more ef­forts are needed to raise the pub­lic aware­ness of the harm smok­ing can in­flict on peo­ple’s health, as well as the ne­ces­sity of pro­tect­ing young peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly ado­les­cents, from tobacco use.

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