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'Smoking in public place should be banned'
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-03-04 07:37

Shocked by the fact that nearly half of the country's 1.3 billion population are suffering from passive smoking, a Chinese lawmaker has called for national legislation to ban smoking in public places.

"According to my estimation based on a survey, nearly 600 million Chinese suffer from passive smoking, which occurs in 71 per cent of Chinese households, 32.5 per cent of public spaces and 25 per cent of working places," said Chen Guiyun, a deputy to the 10th National People's Congress (NPC) China's legislature from the southwestern municipality of Chongqing.

China already has 350 million smokers aged 15 and above, or one in every three smokers in the world.

"It is imperative to create a non-smoking social environment and enhance the self-protection awareness of non-smokers," said Chen.

According to the legislator, women and children in the country suffer most from second-hand smoke. The survey showed that passive smoking among females totalled 57 per cent, and was even as high as 70 per cent among professional women aged between 20 and 49.

"I have put forward a motion to the upcoming NPC session suggesting the State Council (the central government) formulate regulations on a smoking ban in public places as early as possible," said Chen, who is in the Chinese capital for the annual full session of the NPC, slated to open in Beijing on Sunday.

When the conditions are ripe, Chen said, the NPC should even enact a law on such a ban.

Many Chinese cities, government departments and organizations have adopted local-level or internal rules and regulations banning smoking in public places. However, so far the ban is only strictly observed by airline companies, which have prohibited smoking on all domestic and international flights. Smoking remains rampant and unchecked in other public places such as restaurants, cinemas, offices and railway stations despite numerous "No Smoking" signs.

According to the standards of the World Health Organization, passive smokers are those non-smokers who are exposed to the smoke exhaled by smokers in excess of 15 minutes more than once a week.

(China Daily 03/04/2006 page2)

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