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Campaigns will persuade 39 million Chinese to avoid secondhand smoke

(January 5, 2017, Beijing, China, and New York, USA) – Vital Strategies congratulates health organizations in Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Yunnan province on the launch of campaigns warning citizens about the dangers of secondhand smoke (SHS), to build support for proposed smokefree laws or in the case of Shenzhen to encourage compliance with smokefree laws implemented from January 1st 2017. Over 60 million people are now covered by smokefree laws in China, with cities acting to protect their citizens in advance of a national smokefree law. Vital Strategies provided technical support for these campaigns, which are expected to reach more than 39 million people over the coming months. 

Dr. Judith Mackay, Senior Advisor for Tobacco Control, Vital Strategies, commented: “The implementation of smokefree laws in Shenzhen has been a good start to 2017. It means that more than 60 million people in China are now covered by this important health intervention. We congratulate Shenzhen on going smokefree and on the launch of this campaign, which will encourage citizens to support and comply with the law. In addition, we congratulate Yunnan Health and Family Planning Commission, Yunnan Health Education Institute and Hangzhou Health and Family Planning Inspection Institute on the launch of their campaigns to warn people about the deadly harms of second-hand smoke.

“A national smokefree law would benefit the health of all China’s people, protecting the vast majority of non-smokers across the country – especially women and children. The success of smokefree laws in some of China’s biggest cities indicates that China’s people are ready and willing to support such laws. We hope China’s government responds to that readiness – and the urgent need to reduce the burden of tobacco – by implementing a national smokefree law in 2017.”


Shenzhen Health and Family Planning Commission and Shenzhen Chronic Disease Prevention and Treatment Center have launched a campaign that is expected to reach 15 million people, to encourage them to comply with the comprehensive smokefree laws that come into effect in Shenzhen from January 1st, 2017. The campaign, which centers on the “Smoke Free Restaurant” PSA, will be broadcast on Shenzhen Media Group’s TV and radio channels, on LED screens on buses and the subway system and in hospitals on screens in hospitals and other smoke-free public places. In addition, it will run in the Shenzhen Metropolis Newspaper and on social media.


Tobacco production and consumption are higher in Yunnan than in any other Chinese province. The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (2015) found that 32.5 percent of adults in Yunnan smoke tobacco and 67.4 percent are exposed to SHS. Yunnan Health and Family Planning Commission and Yunnan Health Education Institute launched a campaign to build support for a proposed smokefree law. The campaign is expected to reach 15 million people and includes four impactful public service announcements (PSAs): “Cigarettes are Eating Your Baby Alive”, “Invisible Killer – Hospital”, “Invisible Killer-Office” and “Smoke Free Restaurant”. The campaign will run on LED screens in women’s and children’s healthcare institutions, on buses in Kunming (the provincial capital), on local TV channels and on social media.


Hangzhou is an emerging technology hub and regular host to national and international events such as the 2016 G-20 summit. In 2017 it will host the National Student Games. The campaign launched by Hangzhou Health and Family Planning Inspection Institute is expected to reach 9 million people and aims to build support for more comprehensive smokefree laws. It features three PSAs: “Invisible Killer – Office”, “Child” and “Smoke Free Restaurant.” The PSAs will be broadcast on Hangzhou radio and TV stations, on LED screens on buses, and on social media. The campaign will also run in print media, such as the Hangzhou Daily and Urban Express.

The burden of tobacco use in China

The Tobacco Atlas notes that more than 275,900,000 adults and more than 8,937,000 children continue to use tobacco each day in China. This includes 45.3 percent of men, 2.1 percent of women, 18 percent of boys and 0.5 percent of girls. Every year, more than 1,384,200 of China’s people are killed by tobacco-caused disease. Tobacco is responsible for 19.5 percent of adult male deaths and 11.9 percent of adult female deaths – more than the average in other middle-income countries.  This suggests that women in China suffer a disproportionate burden of death and disease from exposure to SHS. A report from World Health Organization (WHO), the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project (ITC Project) and the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found that 740 million non-smokers in China – including 182 million children – are exposed to SHS at least once a day, causing approximately 100,000 deaths every year. According to The Tobacco Atlas, SHS increases the risks of contracting lung cancer by 30 percent (small cell lung cancer by 300 percent) and coronary heart disease by 25 percent. Exposure to SHS killed more than 600,000 non-smokers globally in 2010 from causes of death including ischemic heart disease, lower respiratory infections, asthma, and lung cancers.

Research has shown that mass media campaigns and graphic health warnings on tobacco packs are one of the most effective means to prompt people to stop smoking. They are one of the World Health Organization’s M-P-O-W-E-R (W=Warn) strategies to reduce tobacco consumption. M-P-O-W-E-R strategies are endorsed and promoted by the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, of which Vital Strategies is a principal partner. 

The PSAs and stills and transcripts from the PSAs noted above are available upon request.

About Vital Strategies

 Vital Strategies is a global health organization that seeks to accelerate progress on the world’s most pressing health problems. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change. To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat.

For further information or to arrange an interview with a Vital Strategies public health and tobacco control expert, please contact Tracey Johnston, Vital Strategies, at +44.7889.081.170 or