WHO warmly welcomes the joint policy issued by the General Office of the Communist Party and the General Office of the State Council on smoke-free public places

Press statement

The World Health Organization warmly welcomes the joint policy by the General Office of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council on promoting smoke-free public places, issued on 29 December 2013, WHO Representative in China Dr Bernhard Schwartländer said today.

"Requiring all indoor public places to be 100 per cent smoke-free is a key requirement of the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the global tobacco treaty which China ratified in 2005," Dr Schwartländer said.

"The WHO is very encouraged by the policy issued by the CPC Central Committee and State Council this week, requesting Government leaders and officials to take the lead on banning smoking in all public places".

"The policy is a very important step towards a comprehensive national smoke-free law requiring all public places in China to be completely smoke-free," Dr Schwartländer said.

Exposure to second hand smoke is a critical public health issue for China - it kills approximately 100,000 people in China every year, in addition to the estimated 1 million deaths caused each year by smoking.

Making public places completely smoke free, as required by the WHO FCTC, is the only way to protect against exposure to second-hand smoke.

Accordingly, WHO welcomes the CPC and State Council policy's emphasis on:

  • government officials taking the lead in ensuring existing smoke-free laws are enforced;
  • promoting awareness about the harms of smoking and the importance of tobacco control; and
  • banning smoking and tobacco products from all government functions and events.

China is the world`s largest producer and consumer of cigarettes: there are more than 300 million smokers in the country, comprising 28 per cent of the adult population (including 53 per cent of men, but under 3 per cent of women).

Tobacco will take a devastating toll on China`s health system, economy and society in the future without urgent action: the 1 million annual deaths China experiences currently will increase to 3 million by 2050 if current smoking rates are not reduced.

WHO looks forward to working with the Chinese government to support the CPC and State Council's policy and the development of a comprehensive national smoke-free law in China.

For more information, please contact

Helen Yu
Communications Officer, WHO in China
Tel: +86 10 65327191
E-mail: yuji@wpro.who.int

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