China 'failing to curb smoking'10th January 2011
Health experts are warning that China is losing the battle to help 300 million of its citizens give up smoking.
They say the country will see a sharp increase in tobacco-related deaths in the absence of strong and concrete measures.
According to a joint report by Chinese and foreign medical experts, more than 3.5 million Chinese could die from smoking-related illnesses each year by 2030, compared with 1.2 million in 2005.
Entitled "Tobacco Control and the Future of China", the report predicted that Beijing would almost certainly miss a self-imposed deadline for the banning of indoor smoking on 9 January.
The pledge was part of China's commitment as a party to the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2006.
The country is currently the largest tobacco producer and consumer in the world.
The report, sponsored by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said China's score remained low in terms of its implementation of tobacco control and FCTC obligations.
It said Beijing was falling behind in its implementation of the FCTC's requirements, even though tobacco is the country's top killer, and smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke result in a huge medical and social cost.
It warned that the economic and social cost to society from smoking was increasing at a faster rate every year.
Smokers in China continued to light up freely in restaurants and office buildings on Sunday, with no indoor smoking ban apparently on the horizon.
Chinese smokers, particularly men, will typically offer each other cigarettes as a form of greeting.
The habit is still widely accepted in Chinese culture, and leads to the exposure of an estimated 738 million Chinese to second-hand smoke, including 182 million children.
Cigarettes are given as gifts and bribes, with government agencies among the largest buyers of high-grade cigarettes.
The report blamed the Chinese tobacco industry for undermining anti-smoking efforts, calling it a key barrier to effective tobacco controls.
The industry was generating a far greater social burden than the contribution it made to society in the form of taxes, it added.
It said that China's tobacco monopoly acted as the lead entity in implementing the tobacco control framework, which effectively blocked any smoking control measures before they ever got started.
It called on the government to set up a top-level tobacco control bureau to implement rigorous anti-smoking activities, as well as increased taxes on cigarettes.
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Title: China 'failing to curb smoking'
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 17188
Date Added: 10th Jan 2011