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Tobacco-control legislation under preparation: report

BEIJING, July 13 (Xinhua) — A senior legislator said China’s top legislature is actively preparing to introduce more tobacco-control legislation, after a smoking ban in indoor public places seems ineffective, the People’s Daily reported Friday.

China lacks specialized laws on tobacco control which makes it hard to enforce the bans on smoking in public places, Han Qide, vice chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, said Thursday at a forum on smoking control, according to the report.

Special research teams have been sent to some developed countries to conduct surveys and acquire knowledge, Han said.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) issued regulations last year banning smoking in all enclosed public locations including hotels, restaurants and theaters.

But Han noted that the warning pictures on cigarette packs were not printed, or printed but not in an eye-catching way.

“Inadequate publicity leads to people’s unawareness of smoking-related harm to health so that there is not a high public support to the smoking cessation measures,” Han was quoted as saying.

The central government had promised a smoke-free public spaces by including a public smoking ban in its 12th Five-year Plan (2011-2015) last March.

Some believe the whopping taxes and profits created by China’s tobacco industry also pose challenges for public smoking prohibition.

China is the largest tobacco-producing and -consuming country in the world, with more than 300 million smokers and another 740 million people exposed to second-hand smoke, according to an MOH report released in May.

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