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February 18th, 2008:

China Aims for National Chain of Anti-Smoking Clinics

CRI – February 18, 2008

China will survey smoking habits among key sectors, including doctors and teachers, in 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities this year as it works to establish a national network of anti-smoking clinics.

The goal is to have at least one outpatient facility in each province, where smokers would be offered a combination of medical and psychological treatment depending on their nicotine dependence.

The survey, whose parameters were yet to be determined, would study whether people knew of the risks of smoking and how to stop, according to the Department of Maternal and Child Health Care and Community Health of China’s Ministry of Health.

China has 350 million smokers, whose numbers are growing by more than 3 million a year. There are 50 million teen-aged smokers as well. The number of non-smokers in China affected by passive smoking was 540 million as of 2007, one-third of whom were under 18 years old.

What these numbers mean is that about two-thirds of the population either smokes or is affected by those who do.

Each year, second-hand smoking kills more than 100,000 people, the ministry estimated in a 2007 report.

Nonetheless, there aren’t many outpatient anti-smoking clinics, even in a city like Beijing. In the capital, for example, 22 clinics were set up in 1996, but only three remain.

Other planned anti-smoking measures would be no-smoking workplaces and educational efforts in the school system. And of course, the Olympics are to be promoted as smoke-free.

China has also made efforts to reduce support for tobacco product makers. In May 2003, the government signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which took effect two years later and helped limit the promotion of domestic tobacco enterprises.

Vic Anti-Smoking Groups Lobbying For Ban Extension

ABC News – February 18, 2008 – Jane Cowan

There has been a victory in the battle against smoking, with new figures showing that young people are butting out in record numbers.

In the last 12 months in Victoria, there has been a 30 per cent drop in the number of 18 to 29-year-olds lighting up.

The figures are the first snapshot of smoking rates since cigarettes were banned in bars and clubs in the state last July.

New South Wales and Western Australia also introduced bans at that time, prohibiting smoking in all enclosed areas.

Anti-smoking groups say the new laws are working, and should be tightened even further.

The latest anti-smoking advertisement to be launched onto Victorian television features a smoker squirming on an operating table, as a bronchoscopy tube is forced down her throat.

“By the time most lung cancers are discovered, it’s already too late to operate,” the advertisement says.

It is unpleasant to watch, and unpleasant to listen to.

But the scare tactics will not be needed for 30 per cent of Victorian smokers, aged between 18 and 29, who, according to new statistics, have stopped smoking in the last 12 months.

Executive director of Quit, Fiona Sharkie, says the changes can be partly attributed to the introduction of smoking bans.

“We know that compliance has been very high, that pubs and clubs and people were certainly ready for it,” she said.

“We knew in that age group of young people, 50 per cent of those people said they were planning to quit smoking once the bans came in.

“There was some preparation work done there that prepared people and young people about preparing to quit, but I think we’ll see how that’s really going to play out in the next surveys to come in the following years.”

Tasmania was the first state to ban smoking in pubs and clubs in 2006, followed the same year by Queensland and the ACT.

Western Australia and New South Wales both went smoke free with Victoria in July last year.

The Northern Territory is now the only place where you can still have a cigarette with your beer.

But in most places, there has been no data on smoking rates collected since the bans making it difficult to ascertain the impact they are having on people’s habits.

In Queensland though, an independent study found 22 per cent of smokers tried to quit in direct response to the new laws, and 14,000 of them succeeded.

Anita Tang chairs the National Tobacco Issues Committee at the Cancer Council of Australia, and says she is not surprised by the data.

“We know that for young adults in particular, we have often considered pubs and clubs to be mercenaries for smokers in a way,” she said.

“It’s where young people who are at the experimental stage of smoking spend their time and socialise, and if they are surrounded by other people who are also smoking, it’s much more likely that they will smoke themselves.”

The director of National Affairs at the Australian Hotels Association, Bill Healey, says there has been a significant shift from indoor to outdoor activity.

“That cost the industry a lot of money in terms of renovations to enable hotels to accommodate the new laws, and in some states such as New South Wales it’s been estimated in the vicinity of $750,000 for the club and hotel sector,” he said.

Balancing act

Ms Tang from the Cancer Council, says the bans should be extended.

“The way that the respective governments have defined the areas where you can and can’t smoke does still leave a lot of people exposed to smoke,” she said.

“In some states, particularly in New South Wales, a lot of pubs and clubs have actually created pseudo outdoor areas, which we believe don’t actually address the public health issue.”

But a tightening of the bans is that last thing pubs and clubs want to see.

“Unfortunately our venues are probably some of the more high-profile areas at the moment, where the smoking issue is getting some publicity and therefore we are being pulled into the broader debate about smoking in the community,” he said.

“It is unfortunate for us because we’ve done everything required by the Government to satisfy their needs in relation to smoking in enclosed areas.

“We’ve invested to make our venues suitable to the news laws and to our patrons, and it is disappointing that the anti-smoking lobby hasn’t recognised the efforts we’ve gone to.”