‘You can’t stay warm in winter by smoking indoors!’

Further push on Beijing smoke-free law as WHO launches new phase of successful #RUFREE? social media campaign

News release

As sub-zero temperatures descend on Beijing and the snow settles on the ground to mark the start of winter, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is launching the second phase of its successful #RUFREE? social media campaign – to remind Beijing’s smokers that they cannot smoke in indoor public areas, no matter the weather outside.

“We know the onset of winter will make enforcement of the smoke-free law more challenging, as the cold weather will make it less convenient for smokers to get their tobacco fix. But we don’t want smokers to conveniently forget about the smoke-free law! That’s why we are launching this new campaign this week,” said Dr Bernhard Schwartländer, WHO Representative in China.

“The Beijing smoke-free law has now been in operation for 6 months – and life in Beijing has changed immeasurably in that time. Public support for the law – including among smokers themselves – is very high. And as a result, the nearly 20 million non-smoking residents of this great city are now protected from harmful second-hand smoke. We must make sure this continues,” Dr Schwartländer said.

Following the success of the first phase of the #RUFREE? campaign launched in April which featured well-known Chinese celebrities including SOHO Chairman Pan Shiyi and singer Zhang Liangying, WHO is releasing a series of 19 new posters. The campaign slogan, #RUFREE?, means 'Are you smoke-free? And do you support smoke-free environments?'.

The new posters highlight the serious health harms caused by second-hand smoke, and thank smokers for not smoking indoors – and thus for helping to protect the health of others. A two-week interactive campaign exhibition is being hosted by China World Trade Mall to coincide with the launch, through which members of the public can spread the #RUFREE? message to their family and friends through games, photo opportunities and social media.

New data available this week show that in the month of October, nearly 4000 venues across Beijing were inspected, with over 350 venues in violation, and over 50,000 RMB in fines issued in total. More than 7000 person-time health inspectors are now out ‘on the beat’, supported by over 10,000 volunteers recruited by the Beijing Association of Tobacco Control (BATC).

However, the latest data also show that calls to the 12320 complaints hotline peaked in the two months after the law came into effect, prompting the WHO to reiterate the importance of a continuing strong effort on enforcement.

“Our message to the Beijing government, and the tens of thousands of health inspectors and volunteers supporting enforcement of the smoke-free law is this: your work so far has been phenomenally successful. The Beijing law has broken new ground for tobacco control in China. It’s now time to double down and make sure this success is sustained throughout the winter,” said Dr Schwartländer.

“And our message to smokers is this: thank you for not smoking indoors. And for those smokers who don’t want to brave the cold weather outdoors to smoke: now would be an excellent time to quit!” Dr Schwartländer said.

The Beijing Association of Tobacco Control (BATC) joined the campaign launch, with Mr. Zhang Jianshu, The Chairman of BATC committing BATC to conducting a ‘Tobacco Control Publicity Day’ in Beijing every Wednesday over winter – to continue building public support for smoke-free environments.

“Creating a smoke-free Beijing is a long-term, continuing process. We have achieved much to date, as a result of strong public support. Now, we need to continue with our public campaigns to further educate the public about the harms of second-hand smoke, to further increase support for the Beijing smoke-free law, and to encourage smokers to quit. We need to lodge the idea of ‘smoke-free Beijing’ firmly in people’s hearts.”

Every Wednesday since 25 Nov, BATC volunteers will be active around Beijing in support the smoke-free law, with each volunteer having committed to dissuade at least three people from smoking in public places, to investigate three public places that should be smoke-free, and to distribute tobacco control publicity materials.

“We are very pleased to see so many celebrities and their fans joining the #RUFree campaign on Weibo. It demonstrates that the collaboration between social good advocacy and celebrities does have a big impact. This collaboration is a good communication approach for promoting social good issues,” said Mr. Yang Guang, the Deputy Director of Weibo Social Responsibility.

“The army of tobacco control volunteers BATC has amassed – and the important role they are playing in supporting the Beijing law – demonstrates how powerful grassroots action is in support of smoke-free policies. Not only will this help to entrench smoke-free as the norm in Beijing, but it is helping to build momentum for a national smoke-free law – so that all of China can look forward to a healthy, smoke-free future,” said Dr Schwartländer.

To learn more:

Follow WHO China's official Weibo (@世界卫生组织) ; Join the conversation using the hashtag #你有控吗# (#RUFREE?), or by scanning the campaign QR code:

And interact on Wechat by scanning the campaign QR code:

Download the new campaign posters:

About the World Health Organization

WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.

For more information please contact:

Ms WU Linlin
E-mail: wul@who.int
Office Tel: +86 10 6532 7191