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Shanghai bids to curtail smoking habit
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In a bid to offer a smoke-free World Expo in 2010, Shanghai is likely to extend its no smoking ban from public venues to all indoor workplaces, the Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday.

New legislation will be discussed by the standing committee of the Shanghai People's Congress. If passed, it will replace the current regulation that only relates to no smoking in public places.

"All places with ceilings and at least three walls will be defined as indoor areas where smoking will be strictly prohibited," Li Mingzhu, director of the tobacco control office under the municipal health bureau, was quoted as saying.

"No designated smoking areas will be allowed in the smoke-free zones," she said.

"This is to minimize the impact of second-hand smoking."

The Shanghai authorities have also come up with a better way for smokers to quit the habit, as one in four people in the city are known to be smokers.

It has set up 58 outpatient clinics where people wanting to quit can receive advice and treatment.

Health experts said studies show that on average 10 percent of tobacco addicts who seek professional medical advice or treatment were successful in giving up the habit. If they rely on themselves, most fail.

Pan Jue, a doctor at the Shanghai-based Zhongshan Hospital, told China Daily that in recent months there had been an increase in the number of smokers going to hospitals and clinics to seek advice and treatment.

"At first they come because of a respiratory disease without knowing that it has been caused by smoking," she said.

"When we tell them the cause, and that they can only get better by giving up the habit, they are inclined to do so."

Through extensive talks and psychological intervention, more people are becoming aware of the dangers of smoking, Pan said.

She said recently a man who had been smoking for 20 years and had developed a lung infection, was persuaded to seek medical treatment.

He had failed several times to give up smoking. Through medical treatment and advice he is now recovering and has given up the habit.

Zhongshan hospital forbids its staff to smoke on the premises, and this has proved to be a good example for patients as well, Zhang Jianwei, deputy director of the hospital's administration department, said.

He said the hospital's new policy is to recruit only non-smokers.

As the world's largest producer and consumer of cigarettes, China is home to more than 300 million smokers.

(China Daily December 12, 2008)

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