• June 21, 2024

Smoking ban sought in China

Beijing smog photo
Photo by ilya

Anti-tobacco activists are calling on the Chinese government to impose a nation-wide ban on tobacco smoking in public places, according to a story in The Global Times.

This follows yesterday’s release of the results of a survey suggesting that an overwhelming majority of people support the move.

Nearly 92 percent of the survey respondents were said to have supported a total smoking ban in public areas.

The survey was carried out by the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control but no details were given of the survey’s methodology.

Wu Yiqun, deputy director of the Research Center for Health Development think tank, told the Times that while China had huge public support for a nation-wide smoking ban, a timetable to adopt a law had been on the back burner since the State Council released the Regulations on the Control of Smoking in Public Places on its website for public feedback in November 2014.

“The proposed law has been mainly stymied by tobacco industry officials due to the huge economic interests involved,” said Wu.

The tobacco sector delivered 1.1 trillion yuan ($170 billion) to the state in 2015, a figure that was up by 20.2 percent from that of the previous year, the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration said in 2016.

“Some government officials can be blamed for the postponed smoking ban, as they argue their own department should not be included in the regulations as it would directly damage their own interests,” Yang Gonghuan, a professor at Peking Union Medical College, told the Times.

Mao Qunan, a spokesperson with China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission, said at the conference where the survey figures were announced that legislation would be just the first step toward a smoking ban. It would also require joint co-operation from other departments to ensure the law was not just “a piece of paper”.

And Shen Jinjin, a National People’s Congress deputy, said at the conference that he would propose a nation-wide smoking ban at the March sessions of China’s annual political meetings.