Women's exposure to second-hand smoke: a serious health concern
BEIJING, 6 November 2012 - Almost two-thirds of reproductive-aged women in China are routinely exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke at home, and over half are routinely exposed in their workplaces.
These figures are according to new data released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), compiled as part of the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS). In collaboration with the WHO, the US CDC and China CDC in 2010 jointly conducted the most recent Global Adult Tobacco Survey in China, an important tool in tobacco surveillance.
"Tobacco use and secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure in reproductive-aged women can cause adverse reproductive health outcomes, such as pregnancy complications, fetal growth restriction, preterm delivery, stillbirths, and infant death," says Dr Michael O'Leary, WHO Representative in China.
Exposure to second-hand smoke is a serious issue in China with 7 out of 10 adults reporting such exposure during a typical week. Approximately 100,000 people die from exposure to second-hand smoke in China each year, in addition to the estimated 1 million people who die from direct tobacco consumption.
The new figures show that exposure to second-hand smoke amongst women aged 15-49 years in China is amongst the highest of the 14 low- and middle-income countries (Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Russian Federation, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Vietnam) included in the analysis.
The new figures also show that women in rural areas of China are more affected. Almost 3 in every 4 women in rural areas are exposed to second-hand smoke at home, compared to just over half in urban areas.
"There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. Creating 100% smoke-free environments is the only way to protect people from the harmful effects of second-hand tobacco smoke." Dr O'Leary stressed.
Over the past several years, China has made considerable efforts in tobacco control. China’s 12th Five-Year Plan calls for smoke-free public places as part of the major national goal to increase life expectancy.
The "China Report on the Health Hazards of Smoking" was released by the Ministry of Health in May, 2012. The report outlines the hazards of tobacco use, states the health effects of second-hand smoke, and emphasizes the importance of smoking cessation.
In September 2012, the Ministry of Health of China, and the Department of Health and Human Services of the United States launched the China-US Partnership on Smoke-free Workplaces (CUSW). The CUSW encourages more and more organizations to implement comprehensive smoke-free policies and extend 100% smoke-free protections to all indoor worksites, public transport, indoor public places and other places where the people of China may be exposed to the harms of tobacco.
"We believe that the CUSW Initiative will not only provide a platform for a healthier workforce, but it will also help lead to a healthier environment in the community at large," said Dr Howard Koh, Assistant Health Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services of the United States.
For more information please contact:
Communications Officer, WHO China
Office Tel: 65327191