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November 1, 2018

Xi’an’s strong, new smoke-free law will protect 12 million citizens

(New York, USA) – Twelve million people in China are newly protected from the harms of second-hand smoke starting today, as Xi’an Municipal Government implements its Tobacco Control Regulation to make all indoor public places, workplaces and public transport 100 percent smoke-free. To help support enforcement and compliance with the law, Xi’an’s government has launched a hotline citizens can use to report violations. The new law was publicized with a major event in the city, attended by representatives from the municipal government office, the National Health Commission, the provincial and city Health and Family Planning Commissions, World Health Organization, Vital Strategies and others.

Ten cities in China have now implemented 100 percent smoke-free laws: Anshan, Beijing, Changchun, Lanzhou, Nanning, Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tangshan and Xi’an. Their combined population means that more than 100 million people are now covered by this important health policy.

“We congratulate the Xi’an Municipal Government for taking this important step to protect the health of citizens and visitors to the city,” said José Luis Castro, Vital Strategies’ CEO and President. “A number of China’s cities have been a key driving force for change, significantly increasing the number of men, women and children who are protected from the harms of second-hand smoke. These cities’ actions reflect strong public support for smoke-free laws, as people become more knowledgeable about the harms of tobacco.”

To further support enforcement and compliance with the new law, the Xi’an Institution of Health Promotion and Health Education today launched a new mass media campaign. A 30-second ad, entitled “Smoke-free Restaurant,” is being broadcast on local TV channels, radio stations and on LED screens in core public buildings. The campaign is also being promoted via social media and in Xi’an’s major newspapers. Vital Strategies provided support for the implementation of this campaign, which warns people about of the harms of second-hand smoke and encourages citizens to stand up for their right to breathe smoke-free air. Citizens are encouraged to ask smokers to not smoke in restaurants, to talk to restaurant managers about smokers violating the law, and to call the hotline to report violations.

 The burden of tobacco use in China

The Tobacco Atlas notes that more than 267,589,000 adults continue to use tobacco each day in China. This includes 47.6 percent of men and 1.8 percent of women. Every year, more than 1,952,200 of China’s people are killed by tobacco-caused disease. Tobacco is responsible for 24.89 percent of adult male deaths and 12.75 percent of adult female deaths – more than the average in comparable countries. This suggests that women in China suffer a disproportionate burden of death and disease from exposure to second-hand smoke. Tens of millions of people across China are now better protected from second-hand smoke, as major cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Xi’an have implemented legislation to enforce comprehensive smoke-free laws.

According to The Tobacco Atlas, an estimated one-fifth of males and one-third of females globally were exposed to secondhand smoke in 2016, which caused around 884,000 deaths globally that year from causes of death including ischemic heart disease, lower respiratory infections, asthma, and lung cancers.

A paper in The Lancet revealed that smoking initiation among men in China is happening at a younger age and that smokers continue to smoke for longer compared with previous generations, increasing their risk of disease and premature death.  Unless significant advances are made in reducing tobacco use, the study predicts that one in three of all young men in China will eventually die from tobacco use, and smoking-related premature death – from conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, stroke and heart disease – will claim two million lives every year by 2030.

 About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies, headquartered in New York City, is an international public health organization.  Our programs strengthen public health systems and address the world’s leading causes of illness, injury and death. We currently work in 73 countries, supporting data-driven decision making in government, advancing evidence-based public health policies and mounting strategic communication campaigns. Vital Strategies’ priorities are driven by the greatest potential to improve and save lives. They include non-communicable disease prevention, cardiovascular health promotion, tobacco control, road safety, obesity prevention, epidemic prevention, environmental health, vital statistics systems building and Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis treatment research. Our programs are concentrated in low- and middle-income countries and cities in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific. Please visit our website at www.vitalstrategies.org to find out more about our work.

For further information or to arrange an interview with a public health and tobacco control expert, please contact press@vitalstrategies.org

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