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July 13th, 2012:

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.

In China tobacco-linked deaths may peak in 2025-30: official

BEIJING, July 13 (APP): Tobacco-linked deaths have been on the rise over the past decade in China and are expected to reach a peak between 2025 and 2030, a time when China will overtake Japan as the world’s most aged society, said a tobacco control official here. Each year, smoking related sickness kills over one million people in China, where nearly 30 percent of adults, or more than 300 million,smoke.Another 740 million people are exposed to second-hand smoke annually, state media reported.

Three-quarters of Chinese are not fully aware of the harm caused by smoking, while two-thirds do not know about the dangers of second-hand smoke, according to a report released by the Ministry of Health earlier this year.
The rising medical costs linked to tobacco-related sickness and deaths, along with the aging of the Chinese population, may cripple the country’s social security system in just two decades, warned LiangXiaofeng, deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The combination of the two will strain the country’s social security system, Liang, who is also director of the center’s tobacco control office, said at a forum in Beijing Thursday.
Healthcare and other smoking-related costs exceeded the tobacco industry’s economic gains by 61.8 billion yuan (9.8 billion U.S. dollars) in 2010, according to research by Hu Angang, director of the Research Center for Contemporary China at Tsinghua University.
Tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the world.
It kills nearly six million people worldwide each year, including more than 600,000 who die from exposure to second-hand smoke.
The Ministry of Health report warned that more than three million Chinese will die of smoking-related illnesses annually by 2050 if no measures are taken.

Officials need to enforce smoking ban


I refer to the letter by David Tjian (“Officers failing to be proactive”, July 3) about people breaking no-smoking rules.

There are some people who break the law on purpose. I saw a man smoking at a food stall in the government market complex at Sheung Shui. Rather than phoning the Tobacco Control Office, diners just moved away from him. I can understand this. Gangsters can cause problems and the ones who eventually suffer can be stall owners and their families.

I saw a Hospital Authority poster at Fanling Medical Centre in nine languages reminding people that those who violated the no-smoking ban would be fined.

However, I see no similar posters from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department or Tobacco Control Office in food courts. The authorities are not treating the smoking ban as a priority.

This is in contrast to America, where they take the smoking ban regulations very seriously.

Pang Chi-ming, Fanling

New Study: E-Cigarettes Endanger Bystanders – Bans Growing

New Study: E-Cigarettes Endanger Bystanders – Bans Spreading

“Passive Vaping” Exposed Them to Toxic Cancer-Causing Chemicals

E-cigarettes, also called “electronic cigarettes” or “ecigs,” were recently blamed for a suspected terrorist incident in London and for a fire which burned 350 acres, but, more importantly, a new study confirmed earlier reports that ecigs give off toxic and cancer-causing chemicals which can endanger bystanders through a process similar to “passive smoking” called “passive vaping.” **

The study showed that ecigs give off a variety of volatile organic compounds, including formaldehyde, a toxic and allergenic irritant listed as “known to be a human carcinogen” by the U.S. National Toxicology Program; acetaldehyde, an irritant of the skin, eyes, mucous membranes, throat and respiratory tract, and classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] as a “probable human carcinogen”; acetone, an industrial solvent; as well as 1,2-propanediol, 1,2,3-propanetriol, diacetine, and a variety of tiny particles which lodge themselves into the lungs of those who inhale them.;jsessionid=33855B65D8E691F5D7D3BE1E9818DFC3.d02t04

The authors also report concerns that the solvents emitted by ecig may remain on surfaces “and be a source of the contamination of residents,” including changes over time which could make them more carcinogenic, and that the liquids used to refill ecig cartridges could spill and create additional health hazards. They conclude, with regard to concerns about “passive vaping” by bystanders, that, “with regard to a health related evaluation of e-cigarette consumption, the impact of vapor inhalation into the human lung should be a primary concern.”

Many earlier reports also warned about the dangers of chemicals found in ecig vapors which are inhaled by bystanders. For example, the Harvard Medical School warned: “electronic cigarettes deliver an array of other chemicals, including diethylene glycol (a highly toxic substance), various nitrosamines (powerful carcinogens found in tobacco), and at least four other chemicals suspected of being harmful to humans. To be sure, the dose of these compounds is generally smaller than found in ‘real’ cigarette smoke. But it isn’t zero.”

Indeed, although the most recent study also found that the concentrations of dangerous chemicals in ecig vapors were lower than those found in tobacco smoke, in some cases the amounts could still be considerable. For example, the concentration of acetone in ecig vapors is almost 40% of that found in smoke from conventional tobacco cigarettes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA] has warned the public that ecigs contain various toxic, mutagenic, carcinogenic, and genotoxic chemicals, and that ecig cartridges containing the nicotine and other toxic chemicals, many of which come from China, are subject to “none of the manufacturing controls required for FDA-approved nicotine-delivery products” [like nicotine gum, patches, inhalers, sprays, etc.].

In addition to nicotine and propylene glycol, the FDA reported that it found in samples of e-cigarettes a variety of “toxic and carcinogenic chemicals” including diethylene glycol, “an ingredient used in antifreeze, [which] is toxic to humans”; “certain tobacco-specific nitrosamines which are human carcinogens”; and that “tobacco-specific impurities suspected of being harmful to humans – anabasine, myosmine, and nicotyrine – were detected in a majority of the samples tested.”

The principal components of ecig vapors are nicotine (a dangerous and addictive drug) and propylene glycol (which is used in antifreeze, and may cause respiratory tract irritation), notes public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who brought a law suit which helped establish the FDA’s jurisdiction over nicotine products. Until recently, nicotine was not generally regarded as a chemical capable of causing cancer, but recent research shows that it can be a carcinogen, either by itself or when modified by other chemicals found in the air.

Because of the dangers these many chemicals present to innocent bystanders, more and more jurisdictions are banning the use of ecigs in areas where the use of conventional tobacco cigarettes is prohibited, notes Banzhaf, who was the first to direct attention to the potential health risks to people in the vicinity of ecig users. His scheduled appearance on a major national news program pressured the FDA into releasing a previously-secret report about the dangers of ecigs, and he helped persuade New Jersey and Suffolk County, NY, to ban their use in no-smoking sections.

Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
2000 H Street, NW, Suite S402
Washington, DC 20052, USA
(202) 994-7229 //  (703) 527-8418!/profbanzhaf