Laws are only way to stop smoking, say CDC officials
Updated: 2011-05-27 08:08
Interference from tobacco industry seen as hindrance
BEIJING - Voluntary smoking controls have been ineffective in China and laws and regulations are the only effective way to stop people lighting up, according to a report released in Beijing on Thursday.
The 2011 China Tobacco Control Report was released by the tobacco control office under the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), just ahead of the 24th World No Tobacco Day on May 31.
Smoke-free environments can only be created through mandatory constraints, according to the report. Compared to voluntary no-smoking policies, strict laws and regulations are more equal and comprehensive in their coverage, with enforcement being a key factor in whether or not they are effective, the report said.
Harbin, the capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, passed one of China's first secondhand smoke-prevention laws on the same day that the report was released.
According to the report, China has more than 300 million smokers. About 740 million people, including 180 million children and teenagers, are affected by secondhand smoke, the report said.
Progress on the issue has been "slow" ever since China ratified the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which took effect in 2006, according to Yang Gonghuan, deputy director of the China CDC.
Deaths caused by smoking-related illnesses are predicted to triple to 3.5 million a year by 2030, according to a health report released in January.
The report, Tobacco Control and China's Future, blames the tobacco industry's interference in government policy-making for the lack of substantial progress on tobacco control in China during the past five years.
Yang said government authorities have largely had positive reactions to the report.
In February, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television ordered film and television producers to restrict the number of smoking scenes in their productions and completely eliminate scenes that show specific brands of tobacco or that show minors using tobacco products.
In March, the Chinese government included smoking bans in public places in its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), indicating that more changes may be on the way.
A national regulation banning indoor smoking took effect on May 1, but it has been derided as being too weak because of a lack of relevant penalties.
"Since controlling smoking has been included in China's 12th Five-Year Plan, tasks and responsibilities will specifically be assigned to relevant departments, which will expedite progress in smoking control," said Yang.
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