China is home to the world's largest smoking population, and the country is facing a serious health crisis as a result. World health officials are calling on medical workers and medical students to set a good example for the public by creating a smoke-free environment.
Medical workers should be the most informed of the damages brought on by smoking. But according to official statistics, over 50 percent of male medical workers in China smoke making the public less worried about the consequences of the habit. The situation has led to the launch of a five-year program to control tobacco use within the medical field.
Yang Gonghuan, vice director of Chinese Center for Disease Control & Prevention, said, "This program will make doctors really understand the serious consequences of smoking. More importantly, China will only be able to achieve success in tobacco control if medical workers quit smoking."
The China Medical Tobacco Control program is funded by the Gates Foundation and carried out by the China Medical Board. 13 Chinese medical universities and their affiliated hospitals will also work closely together to create smoke-free campuses and hospitals.
China is the world's largest tobacco producer and consumer. Currently there are 350 million smokers in China, plus 450 million people exposed to secondhand smoke. Each year there are 1 million deaths caused by smoke-related diseases.
The medical profession is a critical and powerful force for tobacco control. A doctor who smokes has his or her credibility called into question when trying to help a patient quit.
Participants hope their efforts will have an effect on university campuses. They say it takes five years for a medical student to complete a study cycle. Hopefully, a new generation of medical students without the habit of smoking will join society at the end of the next five-year program.
(CCTV July 23, 2009)