4 million smokers in Beijing: survey

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2015-5-21 0:23:26

Capital to enact strict smoking ban


Wang Qinghua (left), a smoker from Liaocheng, Shandong Province, receives treatment at a private smoking cessation clinic on May 31. Photo: CFP


Beijing's 4.19 million smokers, accounting for 23 percent of the total population, smoke an average of 14.6 cigarettes per person per day, according to a survey released by the capital's health authority on Wednesday.

The survey, released by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning, collected information from 8,484 residents aged 15 and above, and at 2,548 public venues and work places. Restaurant inspections were limited to undercover checks of Chinese restaurants.

The survey was released 10 days ahead of the implementation of a new smoking ban in the capital city, widely viewed as China's strongest smoke-free law, one which will ban smoking in all indoor public places and open-air spaces in schools, women and children's hospitals and protected relics from June 1.

The ban will face its steepest challenge in bars and restaurants, as 90 percent of Beijing's 10 million victims of secondhand smoke are exposed at bars and nightclubs, while 66 percent are exposed at restaurants, the survey found.

Law enforcement officers will launch a campaign to inspect bars, nightclubs and restaurants in key areas from June to August, and will publish a list of venues that fail to stop customers from smoking, Wang Benjin, a deputy director with the Beijing Health Inspection Institute, told the Global Times.

"The capital's 1,100 law enforcement officers cannot cover all the public venues every day, but we will increase the frequency of inspections at bars and restaurants," Wang said.

Inspections by the authority will be key to guaranteeing a smoke-free environment, but will require inspections to be regular rather than just for a short period, said Yong Gonghuan, an expert with the Peking Union Medical College.

The smoke-free regulation also stipulates that individuals will be fined up to 200 yuan ($32) for violations, and owners of venues who fail to put up non-smoking signs or allow smoking will be fined up to 10,000 yuan. Zhu Yuling, director of the Beijing catering association, said that all the restaurants will ban employees from smoking, and train them to discourage diners from smoking.

China raised its wholesale tobacco consumption taxes on May 8 from 5 percent to 11 percent, while the wholesale price of cigarettes was increased 6 percent, Xinhua reported.

China currently has more than 300 million smokers, and more than 1.4 million people die of tobacco-related diseases every year, according to WHO.

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