China plans antismoking clinics

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 20 March 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:634
  1. Roger Dobson
  1. 1Abergavenny

    China is planning a national chain of antismoking clinics, according to a report.

    Smoking habits among key groups, including doctors and teachers, are to be surveyed beforehand, says the report in the Chinese Medical Journal (2008;121:402).

    According to the report, the survey, to be carried out later this year, will look at smoking in 31 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities.

    “The goal is to have at least one outpatient facility in each province, where smokers would be offered a combination of medical and psychological treatment depending on their nicotine dependence,” says the report.

    It says that two out of three people in the country either smoke or are affected by it. China has 350 million smokers, a figure that is growing by three million a year. An additional 50 million teenagers are thought to smoke. The number of people affected by passive smoking is estimated to have been 540 million last year, with one third of them younger than 18. Estimates also show that the number of deaths caused by secondhand smoking now totals more than 100 000 a year.

    But the report says that despite the scale of the problem, there are few outpatient antismoking clinics in the country: “In the capital, Beijing, for example, 22 clinics were set up in 1996, but only three remain.”

    The survey will look at whether people know of the risks of smoking and how informed they are about ways of stopping. Other planned measures include smoke-free workplaces, says the report.

    The Olympic games in Beijing in August are to be promoted as smoke free, a move that is expected to boost other antismoking efforts in the country.

    The report says that the country has also made efforts to reduce support for tobacco products. In May 2003 the Chinese government signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which took effect two years later and has helped limit the promotion of domestic tobacco enterprises.

    The treaty requires a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship within five years of a country ratifying the treaty. Prominent health warnings are required on products, and non-smokers must be protected in workplaces, public transport, and indoor public places.

    According to the official website of the Beijing Olympic games—which cites China Daily—the city wants smoking bans in all hotels that provide services for athletes and other workers at the games and in all competition venues and restaurants in the Olympic village. The city has also banned smoking in hospitals, schools, and restaurants.

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