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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 30, 2007
540 million Chinese exposed to dangers of second-hand smoke
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540 million Chinese exposed to dangers of second-hand smoke

About 540 million Chinese are exposed to second-hand smoke (SHS), of which 180 million are under the age of 15, says a national tobacco control report released yesterday.

New Delhi, May 30 : About 540 million Chinese are exposed to second-hand smoke (SHS), of which 180 million are under the age of 15, says a national tobacco control report released yesterday.

Women and children are most vulnerable to SHS with the smoking rate among men reaching 57 percent. What's worse, a whopping 90 percent of the women are exposed to SHS at home.

The number of smokers in China has reached about 350 million, the highest in the world. And about 100,000 of the one million Chinese who die due to smoking-related diseases each year are passive smokers, the China Daily quotes the report, as saying. Prepared by the Ministry of Health (MOH), the report was presented at a tobacco control conference in Beijing two days before this year's World No-Tobacco Day, whose theme is to create a smoke-free environment.

This is the second annual report released by the country under the guidelines of the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which was adopted by the 56th World Health Assembly in May 2003.

China signed the Convention in November 2003 and approved it in August 2005. The FCTC officially came into force on January 9, 2006.

According to Yang Gonghuan, deputy director of China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a top expert on smoking control, there is no safe level of exposure to SHS, and therefore the need for appropriate legislation to create a smoke-free environment.

With the public becoming increasingly aware of the problem, Chinese leaders are now thinking of creating a totally smoke-free environment, a view widely shared by the world community.

Despite the government's recent initiatives, China still faces challenges, especially in ensuring that women and minors are safe from SHS.

A recent study covering about 130 neighborhoods in Beijing's Dongcheng district found tobacco vendors within walking distance of 98 percent of primary and middle schools, said Feng Ailan, an expert with the Teenage Tobacco Control Committee of China Tobacco Control Association.

The government's smoke-control schemes have seen "smart" responses from domestic tobacco companies. Zhonghua, for example, carries different warning labels for packs sold in China and Australia. The strong graphic warning labels on Zhonghua packets sold in Australia are much bigger than those available in China. This prompted Lawrence to say: Does this mean the tobacco company "cares more about Australians?"

From January 2009, it will become mandatory for all Chinese tobacco firms to adhere to FCTC regulations that say warning labels have to be at least one-third of the size of a cigarette packet.

ANI

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