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100-day anti-smoking campaign in Beijing to encourage smokers to quit

Beijing: China’s capital Beijing will launch a 100-day anti-smoking campaign from July 1 to encourage more smokers to quit.

The effort will build on the success already achieved since China’s strictest tobacco control regulation took effect in the capital last year, the China Daily reported on Friday.

Since then, tobacco control in Beijing has made significant progress, with smoking in indoor public places decreasing greatly, Mei Hongguang, deputy director for health promotion at the Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning, said on Thursday.

During the campaign, launched jointly by the commission and the World Health Organisation, participants will be encouraged to receive professional services at clinics that help smokers quit at 16 major hospitals in Beijing, or they can seek advice and help through three health service hotlines, Mei said.

Smokers will be invited to interact and share their experiences on social media such as WeChat, he said.

Any resident in Beijing who is over 18 years old and has been smoking for more than a year is eligible to register until June 30, he said.

Participants who successfully quit smoking will have a chance to win prizes worth up to 20,000 yuan ($3,100), Mei said.

Since the start of controls last year, smoking in major public places, such as railways stations and hotels, has decreased, according to a survey conducted by the commission between March and April. The number of cigarettes sold in Beijing last year fell 2.71 percent from 2014, said Gao Xiaojun, the commission’s spokesman.

The survey, which looked at 5,100 residents and 728 businesses, found the greatest smoking decline in restaurants.

Only 6.7 percent of all facilities surveyed were found in violation of the regulation, compared with more than 23 percent a year ago when the regulation was adopted, Gao said.

More than 46 percent of smokers surveyed said they planned to quit, compared with 11.6 percent who said so before the regulation, Gao said.

Health law enforcement officers in Beijing had imposed penalties on more than 1,500 individuals and nearly 400 businesses as of the end of April, levying total fines of more than 1.12 million yuan.

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