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September 20th, 2015:

After 100 days, Chinese capital struggles to kick its smoking habit

Zhuang Pinghui

Toughest ban yet has raised public awareness but doesn’t have enough inspectors to enforce it

Shao Ning, a property agency executive and compulsive smoker, has felt the pinch over the past 100 days since Beijing started its toughest smoking ban.

“I used to meet people in coffee shops and smoke while we had meetings. Now I can’t. Even the airport removed all smoking areas. It’s all very inconvenient,” said Shao, a chain smoker.

But Shao said he could still light up in small restaurants and hardly anyone complains. He gave up smoking in his office after a security guard in the building asked him to smoke outside, but recently saw some people had started smoking in corridors and were ignored.

The capital rolled out the ban on June 1, forbidding smoking in restaurants, offices, on public transport and in any public place with a ceiling. Lighting up in open areas near schools and hospitals is also banned.

While the tough tobacco control campaign boasts a high level of public awareness, enforcement, especially in offices and restaurants, remains an issue.

49%: The smoking rate of Chinese men aged over 15. The rate for women is 2%.

In the past three months, officials have received almost 8,000 complaints about indoor smoking violations in the city, of which 70 per cent concerned smoking in office buildings, restaurants and entertainment venues.

Liu Hui, director of the Beijing Tobacco Control Association, said enforcement officers could barely keep up.

“There are between 1.3 to 1.7 million companies here and 4 million smokers. We receive more than 100 telephone complaints a day. Our officers can hardly meet that demand,” Liu told the West China City Daily.

Staff carried out more than 20,000 inspections, in which 3,100 companies were warned and more than 1,600 people caught smoking. Some 380,000 yuan in fines were meted out to 144 companies and 360 individuals, the toughest punishment so far in cities that ban smoking in public. Offenders face fines of 200 yuan, a sharp rise from the previous 10 yuan penalty. Restaurants also face fines of up to 10,000 yuan for failing to stop smoking on their premises.

Wu Yiqun, deputy director of the think tank Research Centre for Health Development, called the raised public awareness of the smoking ban in Beijing a “landmark achievement”, but said it was impossible for the government to enforce it alone.

Bernhard Schwartlander, the World Health Organisation’s representative in China, said the ban had been enforced effectively and hoped that Shanghai – and ultimately the whole country – would follow suit.

More than 11,000 volunteers, aged from 14 to 81, will promote and help carry out the ban.

Smokers are 50% more likely to suffer from dementia, shock study finds

Medical experts have warned that smoking drastically increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of dementia.

Smokers are 50% more likely to suffer from dementia compared to those who have never smoked, according to researchers.

Medical experts have warned that smoking drastically increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland and ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) Ireland are marking World Alzheimer’s day on Monday by raising awareness of the links between tobacco and this illness.

The two organisations are urging the Government to launch targeted action aimed at reducing the number of people suffering from dementia.

Tina Leonard, Head of Advocacy and Public Affairs with The ASI said: “On World Alzheimer Day, we are calling for dementia prevention to be integrated into national public health programmes now alongside other major non communicable diseases (NCDs) as we fight the growing prevalence of this condition.”

“Current health promotion in Ireland ignores modifiable risk factors for dementia.

“The Department of Health’s Tobacco Free Policy highlights the associations between smoking and premature mortality, cancers and respiratory diseases but not the established links between smoking and dementia.

After 15 years your risk of a heart attack falls to the same as someone who has never smoked
“It’s high time the concept of brain health underpinned our leading health policies if we have a chance of stemming this tide.”

Dr Ross Morgan, Chairman of ASH Ireland added: “While the connections between smoking and cancer, stroke and heart disease are well known, the general public, including most smokers, are relatively unaware of the link with dementia and smoking.

“It is important to raise awareness of the proven link between smoking and dementia.

“Public policies aimed at reducing smoking could play an important role in addressing the risk of dementia in Irish society”.

Research shows that smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and strokes – all underlying risk factors for dementia.

Tobacco can also speed up the build-up of fatty substances, narrowing blood vessels, and depriving brain cells of oxygen, which can cause cognitive impairment.

According to the World Health Organisation, as many as 14% of cases of Alzheimer’s disease worldwide are potentially attributable to smoking.