William W. Au, Daisy Su, Jiang Yuan
April 1, 2012
Throughout the world, cigarette smoking is a habit that causes serious health, economic, and social problems. Therefore, many countries have taken an active role to control and to ban smoking. The chronic smoking problem in China is particularly acute because China has the largest population of smokers in the world, over 300 million currently. If 30% of these smokers were to die of smoke-related diseases in the next 20 years, the impact from the more than 90 million premature deaths could be damaging to China. In addition, numerous non-smokers also experience health problems from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. China’s efforts to reduce or to ban smoking in certain public places have not been well-coordinated or enforced compared with those in other countries. Therefore, success has been minimal. Consequently, leaders in China should not be complacent about combating the serious national health problem. A multiprong approach in combination with the MPOWER policy from the World Health Organization that targets different levels of acquisition of the smoking habit must be used. Examples may include the government’s reduced reliance on profits from the sale of cigarettes, the elimination of advertisements that encourage smoking among young individuals, the presentation of more graphic illustration of harmful effects from smoking on every pack of cigarettes, higher taxes/prices on cigarettes, and the implementation of enforceable bans on smoking in public places. As shown in other countries, such coordinated effort can be highly effective in the reduction of smoking and can have healthy consequences.