BEIJING, Jan. 9 (Xinhuanet) -- China has told government officials to refrain from smoking in public or offering cigarettes to others while performing official duties, in hopes of restoring the image of Party and government officials. And the law is hoped to lead to a national ban on smoking in public places.
No more lighting-up in public… China is attempting to cut the number of smokers and it’s putting pressure on its role models -- government and party leaders -- to butt out in public.
China is the world’s largest tobacco consumer.
According to the government statistics, China has more than 300 million smokers, and at least 740 million nonsmokers regularly exposed to secondhand smoke. Every year, more than 1 million people die from smoking related diseases, and about 100 thousand of those deaths are due to exposure to secondhand smoke.
There is no national law that can impose penalties against those who break bans on smoking in public places. China’s health ministry issued guidelines in 2011 to ban smoking in venues including hotels and restaurants, but they are not strictly enforced. Tsang says there has been no high-level pressure to curb smoking, so the move to limit government officials is significant.
It is the first time a ban like this has come from a top position in government aimed at the country’s political elites. It is not immediately clear what the punishment would be for those in violation, but experts believe it can surely help advance a nationwide smoking control and enforcement in the near future, improving China’s civil health level.