Des­ig­nated smoke ar­eas harm ef­forts at re­duc­tion

China Daily - - CHINA - By WANG XIAODONG wangx­i­[email protected]­nadaily.com.cn

The re­cent move by the to­bacco in­dus­try to build more des­ig­nated smok­ing zones in pub­lic places in many Chi­nese cities could se­ri­ously dampen China’s to­bacco con­trol ef­forts, ex­perts warned on Fri­day.

“Set­ting up com­fort­able and lux­u­ri­ous smok­ing booths both in­doors and out­doors is not an act of care for smok­ers. Rather, it is an ef­fort to draw them nearer to dis­eases and death,” said Wu Yiqun, for­mer deputy di­rec­tor of Think­tank Re­search Cen­ter for Health De­vel­op­ment, a non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion based in Bei­jing that pro­motes to­bacco con­trol.

“Such mea­sures will make it more dif­fi­cult for smok­ers to quit, will at­tract more peo­ple to be­come smok­ers, and goes against China’s pledge to re­duce smok­ing.”

The smok­ing rate for adults in China should be re­duced to 20 per­cent by 2030, ac­cord­ing to a plan re­leased by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment in 2016. The cur­rent smok­ing rate on the main­land is more than 27 per­cent, and more than 1 mil­lion peo­ple in China die every year due to smoke-re­lated dis­eases, ac­cord­ing to ex­perts.

A guide­line re­leased in July by China To­bacco, a State mo­nop­oly, re­quired all its branches to help cre­ate a civ­i­lized smok­ing en­vi­ron­ment to pro­mote good-manned smok­ing, such as not ran­domly throw­ing away cig­a­rette butts.

To­bacco ad­min­is­tra­tions and en­ter­prises at var­i­ous lev­els should make de­tailed five-year plans and try to work with lo­cal gov­ern­ments to main­tain smok­ing venues, it said.

Fol­low­ing the guide­line, to­bacco ad­min­is­tra­tions in some places have ac­cel­er­ated build­ing and up­grad­ing smok­ing booths, in­clud­ing those in­stalled at in­door pub­lic places, and some are well equipped, Wu said.

In Ho­hhot, cap­i­tal of the In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion, some new air­tight smok­ing booths have ap­peared with fa­cil­i­ties such as air con­di­tion­ers, air pu­ri­fiers, light­ing, fixed chairs and even bath­rooms, she said.

Set­ting up prop­erly-planned smok­ing zones in pub­lic places can ease con­flicts be­tween smok­ers and non­smok­ers, and im­prove so­cial har­mony, ac­cord­ing to an ar­ti­cle by the to­bacco ad­min­is­tra­tion of Qu­jing’s Qilin dis­trict, in Yun­nan prov­ince. Qu­jing city is a ma­jor pro­ducer of to­bacco in China.

The ar­ti­cle, posted on the Qilin dis­trict gov­ern­ment web­site on Tues­day, said cus­tom­ized fa­cil­i­ties in smok­ing booths can en­cour­age smok­ers to use the booths.

Xu Chuanx­ing, a tech­ni­cal of­fi­cer for to­bacco con­trol at the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion, said smok­ing zones will not pro­tect non­smok­ers from sec­ond­hand smoke, as harm­ful in­door par­ti­cles pro­duced by smoke can still leak out­side even with air pu­rifi­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties.

It is not ac­cept­able to dis­play to­bacco ad­ver­tise­ments to pro­mote sales at such smok­ing booths, he said.

At least 20 cities in China have banned smok­ing in cer­tain pub­lic places, in­clud­ing Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Xi’an.

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