Health experts have called for a smoking ban among medical workers at an international seminar on cardiovascular diseases in Beijing. Both Chinese and foreign health experts agreed that the control of smoking should begin with medical workers.
China has made significant progress in treating cardiovascular diseases but there is a lot of room for improvement in the early prevention of diseases and control of smoking is the most important of all preventative measures, said Hu Dayi, dean of the cardiology college of Capital Medical University.
"Many medical workers know little about how smoking is harmful to the heart and the blood vessels, and many of them are smokers themselves, which has posed serious difficulties to controlling smoking," Hu said.
According to Jiang Yuan, deputy director of the smoking control office of the Chinese Disease Control and Prevention, reducing the number of medical smokers can lead to less other people smoking.
"Medical workers act as leaders in terms of quitting smoking," Jiang said. "A doctor's advice usually plays an important role in persuading smokers not to stop. But if the doctor himself smokes, the advice will be taken less seriously," Jiang added.
Andrew Pipe, professor from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, said that Canada's experience in smoking control showed that medical workers had played important roles in helping smokers to quit and protecting non-smokers from passive smoking.
China has more than 350 million smokers, about a third of the world's smoking population. Each year, about 700,000 die from smoking-related diseases.
According to the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, 1.95 trillion cigarettes were sold in China last year, netting more than 159 billion yuan (US$ 20 billion) in tax revenues.
China ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control last August, an anti-smoking treaty that has been ratified by 110 countries and came into force in 2005.
(Xinhua News Agency November 7, 2006)