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Wednesday, January 27, 2016, 09:42

Tobacco control 'needs more effort'

By Xinhua

BEIJING -- China has gone a long way in its battle to reduce smoking in the past ten years but there is still much to do, a report said Tuesday.

After China ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2006, smoking in public places has been banned in some cities, public awareness of the dangers of tobacco has increased and tobacco commercials have been banned, according to the report "Tobacco control in China 2015 -- A civil society perspective," published by ThinkTank Research Center for Health Development, a Beijing-based NGO.

The report pointed out that China had a preliminarily system of controlling and monitoring tobacco use, which could provide positive suggestions for tobacco control policies.

Eighteen Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai have rolled out regional regulations and laws that ban smoking in public places, protecting the health of about one tenth of the country's population, according to the report.

The report also said that more and more people are aware of the harm of smoking and secondhand smoke.

However, despite legislation and public education, China has not curbed tobacco use, and smoking prevalence remains the same as it was five years ago.

The Chinese Adult Tobacco Use Survey 2015 by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that 27.7 percent of adults (aged 15 and above) smoked in 2015 and the absolute number of smokers had climbed to 316 million, up 15 million since 2010, each smoking 15.2 cigarettes a day on average.

In order to tackle the situation, the report proposed several suggestions, underscoring that the priority lies in pushing forward nationwide legislation.

Beijing's efforts to ban tobacco promotions and sponsorship as well as smoking in public indoor areas have seen positive results, setting a very good example for legislation, said Wu Yiqun, deputy director of the ThinkTank Research Center for Health Development.

The report also urged that large warning pictures should be printed on cigarette packs as graphic health warning are considered the best way to persuade smokers to quit.

On cigarette packets produced in China there is only an ambiguous warning -- "Smoking is Harmful" -- printed on the front in relatively small text.

Tobacco tax should be increased to cut cigarette consumption, said the report.

Wu suggested that the retail price of cigarettes should be pushed up in the coming years. She said the WHO recommended that at least 70 percent of the retail price of cigarettes in China should come from taxes, compared to the current 55 percent.

There is still a lot to be done and there is "every reason not to delay," said Bernhard Schwartlander, WHO Representative in China.

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