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Anti-tobacco campaigners in China have renewed calls for a national ban on smoking in public spaces.
Many provinces and cities have rolled out regulations to protect citizens against secondhand smoke and raised taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Yet the Beijing-based Thinktank Research Center for Health Development, which lobbies for tougher tobacco control, called on Wednesday for increased measures to create a smoke-free environment for the public.
The latest draft of a basic medical care and health promotion law, which was released in October and is under review by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, highlights publicity campaigns to curb smoking and higher taxes for tobacco products.
Kelvin Khow, a technical officer for the World Health Organization’s Tobacco Free Initiative, said the new draft is encouraging, “but regarding smoke-free public places, we need stronger wording — to ban smoking in all indoor areas”.
The draft uses less-specific words like “control smoking in public places”, he said.
Khow said nearly 90 percent of Chinese are not protected by any smoke-free law, making them vulnerable to health risks from secondhand smoke.
“We’re hurting people by not acting on a national law,” he said.
Twenty-one Chinese cities have banned smoking in indoor public spaces, with the latest being Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi province, in November.
Zhangjiakou, co-host of the 2022 Winter Olympics, is expected to join them soon. It released a draft regulation in September.
Wu Yiqun, deputy director of the Thinktank Research Center for Health Development, said tobacco companies are hindering the launch of a nationwide ban.
“At the very least, we should stop advertising and sponsorship by tobacco businesses and introduce larger graphic warnings on all tobacco products,” she said. “A healthy China must be smoke free.”