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Beijing Will Implement Historic Smoke-Free Law on Monday, Setting Example for all of China

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
May 29, 2015


WASHINGTON, DC – Monday will be a truly historic day in efforts to reduce tobacco use in China as the country’s capital, Beijing, implements a new law making all public places, workplaces and public transportation smoke-free. In addition to making Beijing one of the world’s largest smoke-free cities, the new law also prohibits most forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorships.

Beijing’s law sets a powerful example for all of China, which is the world’s largest producer and consumer of cigarettes and faces a growing public health crisis as a result. China is home to the largest number of smokers in the world – about 300 million. Each year, smoking kills 1.3 million Chinese, and another 100,000 die from exposure to secondhand smoke.

It is heartening that since adoption of the Beijing law, China has adopted national legislation banning most forms of tobacco advertising, and nationwide smoke-free legislation is also under consideration. By adopting these and other strong tobacco control laws, China can fulfill its obligations under the international public health treaty, the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Given tobacco’s horrific toll on China, it is critical that the world’s most populous country take strong action to address the world’s leading cause of preventable death.

Beijing’s new law, which will protect the health of the city’s 21 million residents, also adds to the accelerating global momentum in the fight against tobacco use. Altogether, 44 countries now have 100 percent smoke-free policies for all indoor public places and workplaces. Such laws immediately improve public health by reducing exposure to secondhand smoke, reducing cigarette consumption and helping smokers quit. Many countries have also adopted other proven strategies to reduce tobacco use, including advertising bans, higher tobacco taxes and large, graphic cigarette warnings.

The WHO has predicted that without dramatic change, tobacco use will kill one billion people worldwide this century. Beijing’s new law represents the dramatic change needed to ensure this prediction does not come to pass and hundreds of millions of lives are saved instead.