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Vital Strategies congratulates Beijing on one-year anniversary of smoke-free law

(May 31, 2016, Beijing, China, and New York, USA) – Vital Strategies (formerly World Lung Foundation) today congratulated Beijing Municipal Government on the first anniversary of its highly successful comprehensive smoke-free law, which covers 20 million people. In addition, Vital Strategies applauded Beijing Patriotic Health Campaign Committee on the launch of a mass media campaign – to be revealed at a World No Tobacco Day event at the iconic Birds Nest Stadium – designed to celebrate the first year of the law and encourage people to continue to comply with the legislation. Vital Strategies provided technical support in the design and implementation of the Beijing smoke-free law’s one-year anniversary campaign, which will be broadcast for four weeks from today. The campaign includes a 30-second Public Service Announcement (PSA) and social media content. The campaign airs in Beijing from today on TV channels, subway and bus mobile TV channels, radio stations, information screens in hospitals and community offices and over social media channels including Weibo and wechat.

In addition, Vital Strategies congratulated the Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control & Prevention and the Shanghai Health Promotion Committee on the launch of a mass media campaign that encourages citizens to think about the harms of tobacco use and secondhand smoke (SHS), build support for Framework Convention on Tobacco Control-compliant 100% smoke-free laws to protect a population of 30 million people in Shanghai, and encourage smokers to quit. This powerful campaign features two PSAs – “Invisible Killer- Office”, which highlights that exposure to SHS increases the risk of heart disease by 25 percent, and “Child” which graphically illustrates the harm smoking causes to smokers and the impact it has on their loved ones, particularly children. The PSAs will be broadcast on mobile TV – large screens in subway and railway stations – in Shanghai for a period of four (4) weeks. This campaign and the post campaign evaluation was also developed and implemented with support from Vital Strategies.

Judith Mackay, Senior Advisor for Tobacco Control, Vital Strategies, commented: “Beijing has shown other cities in China – and across the world – that awareness campaigns and enforcement are key to the success of smoke-free laws. Beijing had a very visible countdown to the implementation of the law and authorities have been consistent in issuing fines for violations – both to smokers and premises managers – to promote compliance. This new campaign shows that it is determined to further reinforce the importance of the law going forward. Shanghai’s new campaign is also a commendable initiative to raise awareness of the harms of secondhand smoke.

“If Beijing’s smoke-free law was replicated at the national level, China could make real progress in reducing the costly burden of tobacco-related non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes, respiratory disease and cardiovascular diseases. Tobacco kills more than 1.3 million people in China every year, and sickens and disables many more. A significant number are people in the prime of their economic activity – like those illustrated in “Invisible Killer – Office” and those with family responsibilities – like those illustrated in “Child”, whose sickness and deaths represent an emotional and economic loss to their loved ones. Alongside other policy interventions, mass media campaigns can encourage population-level behavior change. We are delighted to have supported these campaigns to continue to educate China’s people on the harms of tobacco,” concluded Mackay.

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. In total, World Health Organization estimates there may be as many as 315 million tobacco users. 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.

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.

Research has shown that mass media campaigns and graphic health warnings on tobacco packs are two 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 “Invisible Killer – Office” and “Child” PSAs and stills and transcripts from the PSAs are available upon request.

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies envisions a world where every person is protected by a strong public health system.  Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change.  Vital Strategies was formed when The Union North America and World Lung Foundation joined forces.  It is an affiliate of The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union).

To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat

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