China to introduce national smoking ban in public places

23 November 2016:

SHANGHAI – A national regulation banning smoking in public places is expected to be issued by the end of this year, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

The regulation is undergoing legislative process, Mao Qun’an, an official with the commission, said on the sidelines of the Ninth Global Conference on Health Promotion, which is being held in Shanghai from Monday to Thursday.

Banning smoking in public places through a legal approach is important for promoting health, Mao said, adding that non-smokers should learn to safeguard smoke-free environments in public areas by using the law.

“There has been a global consensus that we should minimize the harm of tobacco to health via tightening tobacco control in public places,” Mao said.

According to Mao, the Chinese government will enhance public education in tobacco harm and introduce legislative or fiscal measures, such as reforming taxes and prices of tobacco products, in a bid to meet the requirements of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

At least 20 Chinese cities have passed their own tobacco control rules. Earlier this month, Shanghai adopted an amendment to the existing smoking control rules that took effect six years ago, and is set to ban smoking in all indoor public places, workplaces and public transport from March 2017.

The main aim of the amendment is to reduce the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, rather than warning people not to smoke, said Wu Fan, head of Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Speaking on the sidelines of the conference on Tuesday, WHO chief Margaret Chan hailed China’s ever-strengthening anti-tobacco efforts, saying she expects to see more progress.

China has done well in tightening tobacco control, the WHO director-general said, adding that the country still needs to do more.

On Monday a declaration promoting health in sustainable development was published at the conference, calling on governments around the world to include health promotion in their development agenda.