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CHINA’S anti-smoking campaign saw significant progress in 2014, thanks to legislation at both the national and local levels.|
During a recent health forum in Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, experts agreed that the country’s growing emphasis on the rule of law had advanced tobacco control legislation. However, obstacles to its implementation remained.
Last January, a circular required officials to take the lead by not smoking in public.
In November, the Beijing municipal legislature passed an anti-smoking bill to ban smoking in all indoor public places, workplaces as well as on public transport. It is due to take effect in June.
Also in November, the State Council’s legislative affairs office released a draft regulation for public comment which would ban smoking in indoor public places and outdoor spaces, including schools and hospitals; all forms of tobacco advertising; sponsorship and promotion of tobacco products; and smoking scenes involving minors in films and on TV.
Li Xiaoliang, director of the Pioneers for Health Consultancy Center in Yunnan, said that since the country ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2005, the Chinese government and grassroots organizations had go together to promote the anti-smoking cause.
However, tobacco control legislation still lacks solid public support, since a large number of the country’s smokers and passive smokers are not fully aware of the damage tobacco causes to health and social development, Li said.
As the world’s largest tobacco maker and consumer, China has more than 300 million smokers and another 740 million people exposed to second-hand smoke.
Many law enforcers themselves are not fully aware of the harm of smoking, making strict enforcement of the law difficult at times, said Shen Shouwen, professor at Yunnan University in Kunming.