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WHO commends Shanghai’s move to strengthen smoke-free law; urges strict enforcement as way forward

The World Health Organization (WHO) warmly welcomes the strengthening of Shanghai’s existing tobacco control law with respect to smoke-free public places and work places. The Shanghai Regulations on Control of Smoking in Public Places was amended today after months of intense debate and deliberation.

“We are delighted that with the adoption of this new law, Shanghai will be protecting non-smokers from the deadly harms of second-hand smoke. The amended law clearly prohibits smoking in all indoor public places, work places, and public transport as well as in many outdoor public areas. We look forward to Shanghai’s continuous effort to fully implement and enforce the 100% indoor smoking ban without exceptions,” said Dr Bernhard Schwartländer, WHO Representative in China.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) – the global tobacco control treaty which China ratified in 2005 – requires all indoor public places and work places to be 100% smoke-free. This is because exposure to second-hand smoke kills – and there is no safe level of exposure. Governments, including in cities like Shanghai, have an obligation to protect non-smokers from toxic, carcinogenic second-hand smoke. Exposure to second-hand smoke causes around 100,000 deaths in China each year.

“When this new law comes into force from March next year, the people of Shanghai will be able to breathe smoke-free indoor air. This is a huge step forward for the health of Shanghai’s more than 20 million residents: deaths caused by involuntary exposure to second-hand smoke are entirely preventable, and from a public health perspective that is simply unacceptable,” Dr Schwartländer said.

WHO notes with concern the clause in the new law which states that the city government may issue specifications regarding indoor smoking rooms under special circumstances.

“We hope that this clause in the law is never invoked. Allowing indoor smoking rooms – in any circumstances – would be in clear contravention of the WHO FCTC. The emphasis should now be on ensuring that the new law is strictly enforced, without any exceptions. Shanghai can count on WHO’s full support in this regard,” Dr Schwartländer said.

“Cities like Beijing, Moscow and others around the world have clearly shown that a comprehensive law that is fully WHO FCTC compliant coupled with rigorous enforcement, public education, and strong political leadership is a sure-win formula for success. 100% smoke-free public places do work. And they are incredibly popular with the public,” said Dr Schwartländer.

As Shanghai plays host to the 9th Global Conference on Health Promotion in just 10 days’ time, all eyes will be on the city and its best practices in promoting public health.

“By fully implementing and enforcing the comprehensive indoor smoking ban without exceptions, Shanghai will once again be able to position itself as a leader in tobacco control and the Healthy City movement in China.” Dr Schwartländer concluded.

About the World Health Organization (WHO):

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 WHO China Office E-mail: Office Tel: +86 10 6532 7191

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