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Anti-smoking laws strengthened in Shanghai

China has one of the world’s largest populations of cigarette smokers; a 2010 study suggesting that there are as many as 300 million. With an estimated 1 billion smokers around the world, that means that China makes up nearly one-third of all cigarette users globally. We know that tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke kills, but what is the Chinese Government doing to reduce its people’s smoking habits?

Tobacco use statistics in China

With one in three cigarettes in the world smoked in China, the country was estimated to have consumed nearly 2.3 trillion cigarettes in 2009. Men are much more likely than women to smoke, with 52.9% of men being tobacco users compared to 2.4% of women. Age-wise, more than half of all Chinese smokers also admitted they started smoking daily before the age of 20. The impact of tobacco use in China is just as staggering.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately one million people die every year in China because of tobacco use. This accounts for one in six of all tobacco-related deaths worldwide. Of that million, around 100,000 people die each year as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke annually. This means that someone in China dies around every 30 seconds because of tobacco use; an alarming total of 3,000 a day.

If tobacco use is not reduced, the WHO warns that the number of tobacco-related deaths every year could increase to 3 million by 2050.

Shanghai moves to strengthen anti-smoking laws

In November 2016, the Chinese Government announced plans to control smoking in public places by imposing nationwide anti-smoking laws by the end of the year. The regulations, introduced by a senior official with the National Health and Family Planning Commission, would prohibit smoking in all indoor public venues, workplaces, and public transport. Public outdoor spaces, including schools, historic sites, stadiums, and hospitals, were included.

While the WHO commended Shanghai’s move to create 100% smoke-free spaces, others were more skeptical considering a similar legislative push against tobacco use was previously introduced in 2011. The Chinese Government had increased the tax on tobacco in 2015, however some products still managed to stay affordably priced below 10 RMB. All in all, people still appear to be optimistic about the anti-smoking laws in Shanghai.

What this should mean for people in Shanghai is that going for a cigarette is going to be harder, as the new regulations also prohibit companies and businesses from designating “smoking rooms”. Smoking in the office or at a restaurant will also be a breach of the law; individuals flouting the laws risk being fined 50-200 RMB, while businesses and companies in violation of the regulations could incur a fine between 2,000-30,000 RMB.

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Smoking impacts on health

By now, the negative impacts of cigarette smoke on health are widely known. Even in China, the Government has acknowledged that tobacco use and secondhand smoke is unnecessarily killing Chinese people every year. If you’re still not sure on how bad smoking cigarettes is for you, here’s a quick run down:

  • Cancer: Tobacco smoke is a carcinogen that can cause a variety of cancers including: lung, oral, pharyngeal, laryngeal, oesophegeal, stomach, liver, and pancreatic cancer, as well as cancers of the kidney, bladder, and cervix. Lung cancer accounts for 70% of all smoking-related deaths around the world.
  • Cardiovascular disease: Heart attacks, coronary, and peripheral artery disease, and stroke risks are all increased for those people who smoke. In China, 46% of men aged 30-44 who die from cardiovascular diseases are smokers.
  • Other diseases and health risks: People with Type 2 diabetes can find that smoking causes issues with their illness, while others will find that their risk of communicable diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) and pneumonia will increase. Smoking while pregnant is danger as it can harm the fetus, leading to a low birth weight or other health problems for a mother and baby. Smoking while pregnant can also increase the the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

The WHO also states that the awareness about the hazards of smoking in China is relatively low. Only 25% of Chinese adults are estimated to understand comprehensively the exact health hazards of smoking, with less than one-third aware of the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Quitting smoking: support and help in China

If you’re a smoker and you’re looking to be healthier, save money, and avoid breaking the new anti-smoking laws, your best bet for support would be to visit your local doctor. China appears to lack the smoking cessation nonprofits and programs of Western countries. However, your local physician will have the knowledge and medicines available to help you kick the smoking habit.

Another health option you’ll want to consider is making sure you have adequate health insurance coverage should the worst happen as a result of smoking. Pacific Prime China has been providing clients with robust health insurance solutions for over 15 years. Their expert advisers are across both the Chinese health system and legislation, and can ensure that you’re not caught out should you need quick and efficient care.

For a free quote or some advice on smoking cessation, insurance or anything else healthcare related, call the advisers at Pacific Prime China today.

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Disclaimer: Pacific Prime China solely represents, operates and manages locally regulated insurance products and services in the territory of PR China. Any references to Pacific Prime Global Company or Group, the international services, insurance products or otherwise stated written or verbally, is for introduction purposes about our overseas network only as each entity is fully independent.