China intensifies smoking regulations as more cities join in

26 May 2024

By Shine

China is ramping up its efforts to control smoking as 44 cities newly introduced or revised regulations in 2023, bringing the total number of cities with relevant regulations to 254 nationwide, said health authorities.

At the provincial level, 24 regions in China have rolled out regulations on smoking, with the proportion of the population protected by comprehensive smoke-free regulations continuing to increase, according to experts from the National Health Commission (NHC).

The data was released during a ceremony in Beijing on Saturday, marking the inauguration of a committee led by medical institutions dedicated to tobacco control and health enhancement. A pertinent seminar was also held as part of the event.

Smoking control, including preventing smoking and promoting smokers to quit smoking, is a viable approach for both population-wide disease prevention and individual health care, said Wang Lu, a health expert from the NHC.

China ratified the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2005 and enforced it in 2006.

The country has decided, as outlined in a document released in 2016 aiming to build a healthier China, to intensify tobacco control through pricing, taxation and legislation. It also aims to actively promote the building of smoke-free environments and strengthen supervision and law enforcement in public places.

The document aims to decrease the nationwide smoking rate among individuals aged above 15 to 20 percent by 2030.

Recent years have witnessed active legislative efforts by local authorities to control tobacco.

Beijing, for example, prohibits smoking in public places, indoor workplaces, and outdoor queues. Shenzhen bans smoking in indoor workplaces, indoor public places, public transportation vehicles, as well as outdoor areas in schools, parks and medical institutions.

Thanks to relentless anti-smoking efforts, the adult smoking rate has decreased to, for example, 19.4 percent in Shanghai.

Nationwide, the smoking rate among the population aged 15 and above stood at 24.1 percent in 2022, down by 1.7 percentage points compared to 2020, data shows.

NHC official Wu Xiangtian noted that China will actively promote smoking-free environments and make health communication a focal point in disease treatment to assist patients in adopting healthy lifestyles.

Simultaneously, the country will intensify scientific research into the epidemiology and clinical treatment of tobacco dependence.