The Global Times recently reported that 15 million teens light up in China, according to a 2008 report from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Excuses that range from “It helps me relax” to “All my friends do it,” give China’s 13 to 18 year olds reasons to buy cheap cigarettes.
I personally witnessed a young kid, most likely embarking on his teenage years, pressuring his friend to smoke at a bus stop. He teasingly waved the cigarette in front of his friend’s face, while the boy desperately tried to grab at it. As the bus pulled away, I wondered about these children’s fates, as tobacco gradually blackens their developing lungs. They would severely hurt their chances of ever becoming the next Yao Ming, and they probably won’t be able to run to catch the subway without breaking into a sweat.
What’s China doing to keep children from spreading the habit? A Beijing survey shows that every school has about two cigarette stands nearby with affordable prices, according to the Global Times. The Times also reports that the Ministry of Education plans to counteract this easy access by issuing a regulation banning smoking “in all schools and indoor spaces at universities.” However, I couldn’t find any other news articles to support this.
A quick online search reveals that China’s attempts to curb smoking in other indoor facilities for the last four years might finally come to a grand finale, granted people actually pay attention. China’s Ministry of Health announced that they will place a ban on smoking in all indoor public places, public transportation, work places, and other areas by January 2011. Read more about this proposition here. The Ministry of Health prohibited smoking in their own office buildings beginning May 31, according to the People’s Daily.
Shanghai also recently enforced a city-wide smoking ban in public places, following Beijing’s lead, after the capital attempted to reduce the second-hand smoke during the Olympics. The Shanghaiist reports that penalties for breaking the new rules wouldn’t empty a pocketbook, being only 50 RMB to 200 RMB. A shocking 2009 viral picture of a toddler from Sichuan Province lighting up accompanies the article.
Low fines and lack of advertisement for these regulations cause tobacco-free advocates to worry that the message won’t get across soon enough, as the number of smokers on the mainland continues to rise. The Ministry of Health, with a miniscule tobacco control budget, also faces the political baggage of a State Tobacco Monopoly Administration that operates both as a government agency and a corporation.
One million deaths a year in China occur due to smoking-related illnesses, according to a recent PBS interview. But despite the gloom and doom, some still oppose the insistent efforts the Ministry of Health is making to break people’s habits, worrying that it will stunt China’s economic growth. Yang Gonghuan, director of China’s National Office of Tobacco Control, told the China Daily that the tobacco corporation’s influence on younger kids is also making it difficult to easily convince little ones that smoking is bad: “For instance, a primary school rebuilt after the Sichuan earthquake with funds from a tobacco company is named “Sichuan Tobacco Hope Primary School.”
Perhaps this is why those vapes and portable vaporizers(Check www.DAVINCIVAPORIZER.com to learn more) are on the rise now. There is no doubt that it is a threat to tobacco companies as a lot of people observed that it is a healthier alternative and it’s a very good way to start the habit of quitting to smoke. Not to mention that you can circumvent laws on smoking ban, these devices are just starting to become the trend. The clock is ticking for China, as promising youngsters and adults risk their health and pollute the air in cities that are drawing more and more expats each year. Will the newest efforts work, or, like other attempts, go up in smoke?