Tobacco control

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, October 27, 2010
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With two months left, China's smoking ban in public venues, including restaurants and bars, may well go up in smoke. The government has promised to ensure that all public places, workplaces and public transportation go smoke free by January 2011.

However, we have doubts about how effective such a ban is going to be. It is indisputable that smoking is a killer. Yet the government has not taken enough measures to restrict smoking in public areas. It is not just a question of weak regulations but also weak implementation.

Even more shockingly, every year more women and young people are introduced to cigarettes and consequently become addicted. We condemn the future generation to certain death through government inaction.

According to the Ministry of Health, 50 million Chinese teenagers are puffing on tobacco and more than 43 percent of Chinese teenagers were exposed to secondhand smoke at home and some 56 percent in public places.

With 350 million smokers, more than a quarter of the world's total, the nation is hooked on nicotine. Fifty-three percent of men aged 15 and older are regular smokers. About 1 million people die of smoking related diseases every year.

Children are the new targets of the tobacco industry. They are the most vulnerable members of society. The government needs to protect them.

Up until 2011 cigarette advertisements and sponsorships by tobacco companies will be allowed in China. With what we know about the dangers of smoking this is unforgivable.

By January 2011, the tobacco industry is supposed to have no place for advertisements and sponsorships in the nation. However, the government has failed to take any steps to ensure that the ban will be effective.

The steady growth of new smokers in China cannot be separated from the government's weak regulations and abysmal law enforcement on tobacco use.

China ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international treaty introduced in February 2005. So it is required to implement effective methods to reduce tobacco use.

In real life, the reverse seems to be happening. The rate of smoking has not changed significantly, and tobacco production has actually gone up.

If the government's word is as good as its bond, it needs to enforce the antismoking laws strictly. If no action is taken to curb smoking, the problem will worsen in the coming years.

We can no longer afford to condemn our youth to the hazards of smoking. Without national legislation, the WHO requirement on a comprehensive smoking ban is unlikely to be met in China. The government needs to make good on its pledge to make public interiors throughout the nation clear of smoke.

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