China's Health Minister Chen Zhu on Sunday urged health and medical workers to quit smoking and set a good example for people to follow, Tuesday's China Daily reported.
"Medical workers and those who take the decisions regarding people's health should take the lead to quit smoking and completely ban indoor smoking to set a good example for their patients and others who look up to them," the minister said as he launched a campaign to discourage smoking among medical staff.
About 56.8 percent of male doctors in the country smoke. It is the highest rate in the world, according to the China Preventive Medicine Association (CPMA).
Despite finding success in holding a "smoke-free" Olympics last year, the country continues to face difficulties getting its citizens to give up the killer habit due to lack of relevant legislations, policy implementation and awareness campaigns, Chen said.
Tobacco's popularity in the health sector has mirrored the country's alarming cigarette situation, with about 350 million Chinese smokers, of which 1 million die every year.
"International experience has it that when doctors give up smoking, it encourages a lot of others to kick the habit," Chen said.
The CPMA-launched campaign to encourage health workers to stub the butt has now been joined by 10 leading health associations and 10 universities.
They have vowed to make medical schools, hospitals and associations "completely smoke-free" this year.
Wang Chen, head of the Beijing Chaoyang Hospital, said the institution has been awarding an anti-tobacco bonus to employees who do not smoke, which has been very successful.
Wang Longde, head of the CPMA and a deputy to the upcoming National People's Congress, said he will propose to push forward the drafting of the legislation in tobacco prevention and control during the session.
(Xinhua News Agency March 3, 2009)