China Anti-Smoking Laws
Smoking Ban in the Chinese Capital to Move Forward
The Beijing Municipal Government has recently vowed anti-smoking laws to ban smoking in all indoor public venues, workplace, and public transport vehicles in a new anti-smoking bill. Lawmakers in Beijing have taken a stand against smoking in public spaces in an attempt to reduce the death toll caused by tobacco consumption.
China is the world’s largest consumer and producer of tobacco. China accounts for the production of 42% of the world’s cigarettes, and has around 300million tobacco users. With such a large number of smokers in China, a large number of health risks arise. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), smoking tobacco causes estimated 1million deaths in China. Around 100,000 of these deaths are caused by second-hand smoke. WHO advises that if China doesn’t crack down on its cigarette consumption, the death toll in China caused by smoking tobacco could rise to 3million each year by 2050.
China’s capital city, Beijing, viewed the WHO statement seriously, and on November 28 2014, the Beijing Municipal Government took a stand against tobacco use. The draft bill outlines that the smoking ban will be implemented in all indoor public spaces and workplaces, schools, women’s and children’s hospitals, fitness and sports venues, and public transport stations and waiting areas. The new anti-smoking laws will be effective as of 1 June 2015. Offenders will be set to face fines of up to 200RMB (USD$48.75), up from 10RMB (USD$1.62) in previous years.
The Anti-Smoking Law is to Do More than Just Ban Smoking
Whilst there a many supporters of the anti-smoking legislation, there are some that say the government could be doing even more to reduce tobacco product consumption. Deputy Head of Chinese Association on Tobacco Control, Yang Gonghuan, states that the ban is a precondition for smoking control, and that it is more important for the government to raise awareness of the dangers of smoking.
The ban not only controls smoking in public spaces, but also bans tobacco advertisements through various media channels. Advertising cigarettes and other tobacco products are banned on radio, TV, film, newspapers, Internet, books, and also on outdoor and public transport advertising spaces. Furthermore, tobacco companies are banned from title sponsorship and other tobacco promotions.
The implementation of the new anti-smoking laws in China also establishes requirements for schools to help their students quit smoking and educate them about the harmful effects of smoking.
In addition to the smoking bans, experts suggest that the Chinese government raise taxes and retail prices on tobacco products as a way to effectively reduce to cigarette consumption. The WHO claims that as tobacco prices increase by 10%, the amount of tobacco consumers’ decrease by 3.7%.
The anti-smoking laws do, however, have some critics. Previous efforts by Chinese governments to deter smoking have had very little effectiveness. Around 40% of Chinese residents were completely unaware of a similar ban in 2011. The state-owned China Tobacco monopoly in 2012 earned 1.65trillion RMB (USD$268billion) in profits. The significant amount of tax revenue received by the government from the tobacco industry causes even more scepticism surrounding the validity and enforcement of the ban. Tobacco companies argue against the ban, claiming that tobacco controls will reduce GDP and economic development.
China’s Anti-Smoking Laws a Win for Hospitality Industry
As the new anti-smoking laws in China ban smoking in all public indoor spaces, businesses within the hospitality industry are expected to increase sales. Various studies have concluded that restaurants, bars, and clubs did not lose money after the implementation of smoking bans. Instead, many reported the bans had a positive effect on sales. The reasons for the positive effects are unclear, but the increase may be a result of non-smokers staying in venues longer, and smokers satisfying their nicotine cravings through the consumption of food and beverages rather than frequently exiting the venue for a cigarette. Another study found that 10% of those surveyed were more likely to visit nightclubs more often, and another 20% would go to visit bars more often if smoking bans were implemented and enforced.
As China moves forward with its anti-smoking laws in Beijing, more cities are sure to follow in an effort to improve the health and lifestyles of their citizens, and reduce deaths caused by tobacco smoking and second-hand smoke.