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Chinese medical institutions asked to ban smoking entirely by 2011
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A Chinese tobacco control organization said Thursday that more than 20 hospitals nationwide had been certified smoke-free.

Tobacco addiction is not only a bad habit, but a serious chronic disease, Wang Chen, vice president of the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control (CATC) told Xinhua on Thursday.

The CATC initiated a tobacco control campaign among hospitals starting in 2001.

"We firmly support the government's decision to ban smoking in medical institutions and will invite more hospitals to join the campaign," Zhang Jing, communication officer of the CATC, said.

Ahead of World No Tobacco Day, the health authorities have asked all medical administrations, hospitals and disease control centers to impose total smoking bans by 2011.

This goal was declared by a mandate jointly issued last week by the Health Ministry, State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the logistics departments of the People's Liberation Army and the People's Armed Police Force.

At least half of medical institutions should be smoke-free by 2010, it said.

The mandate ordered all civilian and military medical organizations to develop detailed plans for a ban, which would be a practical measure to fulfill the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

The FCTC was initiated by the World Health Assembly and approved by the WHA's 192 members in 2003. China signed the convention in 2003 and the country's top legislature ratified it in 2005.

The health authorities asked each medical institution to establish a special work team for the implementation of the smoking ban so that a nationwide network could be formed in 2010.

All hospital doctors should ask patients about their smoking history during the first visit and make a note of that in the medical record, as well as quit smoking instructions, according to the mandate. It ordered medical institutions to impose strict non-smoking regulations.

The mandate specifically states that all military and civilian medical institutions are banned from offering cigarettes to guests.

The health authorities also asked the medical institutions to organize non-smoking campaigns to raise public awareness of tobacco's danger around May 31, this year's World No Tobacco Day.

China is the largest producer of cigarettes in the world, with most consumed domestically.

(Xinhua News Agency May 28, 2009)

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