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Beijing Steps up Effort to Create Smoke-free Environment
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Three hospitals in Beijing on Thursday announced the launch of outpatient services to help smokers quit in a move to mark the 20th World No Tobacco Day.

The city was making efforts to create smoke-free hospitals and encourage medical staff to quit smoking, said Liu Ying, an official with the disease control section of the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau.

With the Fuxing, Zhongguancun and Beijing No. 6 hospitals, the number of city hospitals with regular quit-smoking outpatient services rose to six.

The service comprised counseling and medication, including Bupropion, an anti-depressant drug commonly used to help smokers quit, alongside nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), said Liu Xiurong, head of health education with Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

All medical staff working in the services at the three hospitals had received training either in Hong Kong or in Beijing, said Liu.

"I hope the service will help to smokers who have difficulty quitting on their own," said Liu.

Services are also available at Anzhen Hospital, China-Japan Friendship Hospital and Chaoyang Hospital.

China is the world's largest tobacco producing and consuming country, accounting for more than a third of the global total on both counts. It has more than 350 million smokers and nearly one million die from smoking-related diseases each year, according to the Ministry of Health.

About 540 million Chinese suffer the effects of secondhand smoke and more than 100,000 die annually from diseases caused by passive smoking, said the ministry's 2007 Report on China's Smoking Control.

China joined the international fight against tobacco consumption when it signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control of the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2003.

As the host of the 2008 summer Olympic Games, Beijing has also been waging campaigns for a smoke-free Games.

In April, municipal government departments, including the bureaus of health and commerce, issued a circular asking all catering businesses to implement tobacco controls.

By June next year, smoking bans should be enforced in all hotels that provide services for athletes and other workers of the Olympic Games, all competition venues and restaurants in Olympic Village.

Large and medium-sized catering ventures should also advocate a smoking ban and make at least 75 percent of their floor space smoke-free.

(xinhua News Agency June 1, 2007)

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