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Second-hand smoke risks in the spotlight

English.news.cn   2014-05-31 05:41:15

CHANGCHUN, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Chinese are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of second-hand smoke for children, and the issue is set to gain extra prominence with World No-Tobacco Day coming up on Saturday.

Since her pregnancy, Liu Ying has been warning her family members and relatives in Xi'an of northwest China's Shaanxi Province of the dangers of smoking around babies.

"Please guard our little angel and stay away from tobacco," read stickers that Liu has distributed around her family.

Over the past year, a number of friends and relatives who frequent her family have quit smoking. "They told me they would not continue smoking at the risk of our next generation's health," she says.

In Changchun, some 2,400 km from Xi'an, Gan Quan has been busy telling the public about the harmful effect of tobacco smoke on fetuses.

"Second-hand smoke may cause insufficient fetal growth, likely leading to an early abortion," says Gan, director of the Chinese office of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.

He explains that long-time exposure to second-hand smoke will increase children's health hazards and some may consequently suffer from asthma. 8 A surge in such diseases as tympanitis, brain cancer, lymph cancer and leukaemia among children in recent years is partly related to insufficient tobacco control, Gan notes.

According to a report released by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention ahead of World No-Tobacco Day, 6.9 percent of Chinese junior school students smoke, and over 80 percent have tried smoking before the age of 13.

China still faces a tough situation in controlling tobacco consumption, despite the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control taking effect in the country eight years ago, says Yu Xiuyan, a Chinese legal consultant for non-governmental organization the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

If China lags behind in controlling smoking around children, Yu worries that tobacco control work around the world will be hampered.

Experts say one of the important reasons for China's inefficiency in tobacco control is that Chinese smokers have little knowledge about the harm of second-hand smoke.

The Chinese government had banned smoking in public venues in 12 cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Changchun as of March this year.

In Changchun, the municipal government ruled that retailers selling cigarettes to juveniles will be fined up to 30,000 yuan (about 4,862 U.S. dollars).

Meanwhile, teachers and parents are asked not to smoke when their students and children are present.

"We must create a tobacco-free environment for our children," says Wu Yiqun, deputy director of Beijing-based Think Tank Research Center for Health Development.

"And we need to let our children act as 'tobacco control ambassadors,' persuading their parents or family members to quit smoking after they receive anti-tobacco education."

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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