Chinese Health Ministry Releases Landmark Anti-Smoking Report

Polls Shows Overwhelming Public Support for Smoke-free Public Spaces

May. 29 2007

Beijing — The Chinese Ministry of Health today released a landmark report which embraces the international scientific consensus that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke and supports the passage of legislation banning smoking from public places. The report reveals that despite widespread smoking in China, the Chinese public overwhelmingly supports 100% smoke-free public areas. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a Washington, DC-based advocacy organization, endorses the report's conclusions and commends the Chinese government's responsible attitude toward the health of the Chinese people.

The "2007 China Tobacco Control Report" was released on May 29 in a high profile press conference in Beijing's Great Hall of the People. (The full report is available in Chinese (PDF).) The report states that more than 100,000 people died from illnesses related to the inhalation of secondhand smoke in China in 2002. It emphasizes that scientific evidence shows that "there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke," and that ventilation equipment is ineffective in reducing the harm from exposure to second-hand smoke. The report concludes that the most effective way to protect public health is through the legislation banning smoking in public places.

Dramatic polling data in the report reveal overwhelming public support for the enactment of totally smoke-free public spaces. Notably, for all categories of places, support for total smoking bans exceeds support for partial smoking bans. The polls were conducted in 2006 by the China Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in seven cities around China: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Changsha, Zhengzhou, Yinchuan, and Shenyang. Among smokers, the polls found that 93.5% support a total ban on smoking in all schools, 75.5% support a total ban in hospitals, and 94.3% support a total ban in all public transport. Among non-smokers, 95.1% support a total ban in all schools, 78.1% support a total ban in hospitals and over 93.8% support a ban in public transport. Some 70.6% of non-smokers support some type of smoking ban in bars and restaurants.

The report estimates that more than 540 million Chinese are harmed by second-hand smoke. Women and children are the main victims. Although the women's smoking rate in China is low, the male smoking rate is very high, meaning that more than 50 percent of Chinese women are exposed to second-hand smoke in their daily lives. Among Chinese youth, 55.8 percent are exposed to second-hand smoke in the home.

"Given the smoking prevalence in China, the strong levels of support for banning smoking from public spaces are very encouraging," said Susan Lawrence, Head of China Programs for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids from Beijing. "China showed itself to be a responsible steward of public health when it signed and ratified the global tobacco control treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. With this report highlighting the harm to health from second-hand smoke and embracing 100 percent smoke-free public places, the Chinese government is again showing a highly responsible attitude toward the health of the Chinese people."

The findings and conclusions of the Chinese report mirror international guidelines on the protection from exposure to secondhand smoke that will be considered for passage at the upcoming Conference of the parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which will be held in Bangkok from June 30 to July 5. If passed, the guidelines will set an important international standard for creating smoke-free environments.

Background information:

China signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2003 and ratified it in 2005. The convention went into effect in China on January 9, 2006. Article 8 of the convention calls on signatory parties to take effective steps to protect their citizens from exposure to tobacco smoke.

With 350 million smokers, China has the largest smoking population in the world. Some 66% of men and 3% of women smoke. It is estimated that one million people a year die in China from smoking-related illness.

The Chinese tobacco industry is a state monopoly which annually produces one third of the planet's cigarettes. The industry generated $37.93 billion in taxes and profits in 2006, a figure that represented 7.7 percent of central government revenue.

In 2008, China will become the first country to host an Olympic Games since the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control went into effect. China's Premier Wen Jiabao has promised that these will be "tobacco-free" games. All six mainland Olympic host cities will be undertaking tobacco control initiatives with an emphasis on creating smoke-free environments that will continue after the Olympic Games conclude.

About the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids: The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids , a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., is a leader in working to reduce tobacco use and its devastating health and economic consequences in the United States and around the world.

For more information, please contact:

Susan Lawrence, Head of China Programs, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. (Until 6 pm on 5/30) Tel: 13520666340. Email: slawrence@tobaccofreekids.org.

Ms. Elaine Yin, Associate Director, International Communications, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Tel: 13693021221. Email: eyin@tobaccofreekids.org.

 

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