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Women’s Organization Establishes China’s 1st No-Smoking Community

May 12, 2015

Lin Zhiwen and Chen Hongmei

A women’s organization has helped most tobacco users in Huangwai Community, Zhanjiang City in south China’s Guangdong Province, quit smoking and turned the community into the country’s first smoking-free village.

Since May 2013, Women’s Home, an organization affiliated to the local women’s federations, has urged female residents to help tobacco users quit smoking and ask their husbands to sign no-smoking agreements.”

It was a tough task, given that more than 800 out of its 1,300 residents were tobacco users.

During the campaign, female residents of the village gathered their smoking pipes and destroyed them on voluntary basis.

To better promote the building of a smoke-free community, “Women’s Home” proposed to establish a smoking surveillance team consisting of women members.

The proposal was warmly received and over 30 elderly women joined the group.

For those they found smoking in the community, the team asked them to do cleaning jobs in the public areas of the community and for those who quit smoking and gave up for more than a year, they hand out rewards.

At the entrance to the village, the team erected a plaque, saying “Smoking-free Community” and posted no-smoking signs in public areas.

In addition to routine surveillance, the team goes around the village to see whether there are people smoking in public areas and they are also open to complaints about smoking in households.

“The community’s call for residents to quit smoking is appreciated most by women,” said a team member, who gave a successful example of her husband quitting smoking.

“When my husband quit smoking, my father-in-law also gave up,” she said. “Now, no one coughs because of smoking in my family. It is good for my two children who are growing up.”

The initiative to build a smoking-free community is one of the measures of the “Women’s Home” in Huangwai to encourage women to “hold up half the sky”, as in the famous 20th century Chinese phrase.

Li Yingmei, director of the community’s Women’s Congress, said that the campaign was a measure to empower women, and that “Women’s Home” leads women to participate in the management of the affairs of the community.

Currently, “Women’s Home” has an office and large recreation center of around 180 square meters. In addition to the anti-smoking team, it has established cooperatives as well as exercise, volunteer and cleaning attendant teams.

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