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WLF Hails Positive Steps in Tobacco Control in China

Thursday, May 31, 2012

New Ministry of Health report highlights risk of tobacco to health of China’s citizens
New smokefree laws in Harbin and Tianjin will protect 23.5 million against those harms

(New York, USA) –World Lung Foundation today welcomed two significant steps in the advancement of tobacco control and public health in China. First, a new epidemiological report published by China’s Ministry of Health has used studies from China and around the world to confirm the risks of tobacco use to China’s citizens. Secondly, comprehensive smokefree legislation came into effect in two of China’s leading cities: Harbin and Tianjin.

World Lung Foundation was invited to participate in the technical and content review of the new report, entitled “China Report on Health Hazards of Smoking”. Previous studies have reported that tobacco causes 12% of male deaths and 11% of female deaths in China. The new report echoes these findings and concludes that tobacco causes or is linked with a wide range of severe health risks, including lung disease, cancer, stroke, heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, diabetes, premature birth, low birth weight, childhood asthma and cot death. Similar studies in other countries have provided a foundation for tobacco control policy and it is anticipated that the China report will underpin future national tobacco control policies in the country that is the world’s leading producer and consumer of cigarettes.

WLF has also been involved in building awareness of the risks of tobacco use and secondhand smoke in Tianjin and Harbin, the two cities where comprehensive smokefree laws come into effect today. WLF provided technical support to help local authorities create and implement mass media campaigns warning people of the risks of secondhand smoke in workplaces and the dangers to the heath of babies and children. Tianjin is China’s sixth most populated city, with over twelve million residents. Harbin is China’s tenth most populated city, with a population of over ten million people. In total, the newly enacted legislation will cover over twenty million people across the two cities.

Judith Mackay, Senior Advisor, World Lung Foundation commented, “Numerous population-based studies have estimated that tobacco kills millions of smokers and non-smokers in China, but the medical case against tobacco in China has never been official. The report from the Ministry of Health provides the hard science upon which tobacco control measures can be based. And as we have seen in Tianjin and Harbin, attitudes do start to change when consumers have the right information about the real risks of tobacco use.

“World Lung Foundation was one of the first Bloomberg Partners to work with Tianjin CDC and we are proud to have helped create a climate where these laws could be enacted. We hope that Tianjin and Harbin become model jurisdictions within China, and their success will be replicated across the country to save the lives of millions of Chinese citizens.”

Tobacco Use in China

Smoking kills at least 1.2 million people each year in China. Over a quarter of all Chinese smoke (28.1% percent; 301 million adults), with 53 percent of men and 2.4 percent of women using some form of tobacco. Nearly two-thirds of Chinese adults (63.3%) noticed tobacco smoke at workplaces and 70% of non-smoking adults report being exposed to secondhand smoke in a typical week. Among youth (age 13-15), 47 percent are exposed to secondhand smoke at home.

Web-based Resources for Governments

WLF’s Tobacco Control Mass Media Resource provides access to campaign materials that have been evaluated and proven to work; many of the advertisements clearly explain the health risks of tobacco use and secondhand smoke. Ads that have been used in Tianjin and Harbin to encourage smoking cessation and build support for smokefree legislation include: “Cigarettes Are Eating Your Baby Alive” and “Invisible Killer - Office”. WLF advises governments and health agencies on campaign planning, and ad selection and licensing, and provides technical assistance in media campaign planning in order to deliver the most effective results.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of mortality in the world today, and is responsible for more than five million deaths globally each year—one in ten preventable deaths worldwide. The implementation of graphic pack warnings and mass media campaigns are two of the main commitments under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). It is one of the World Health Organization’s M-P-O-W-E-R (W=Warn) strategies to reduce tobacco consumption. MPOWER strategies are endorsed and promoted by the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, of which World Lung Foundation is a principal partner.

About World Lung Foundation

World Lung Foundation was established in response to the global epidemic of lung disease, which kills 10 million people each year. The organization also works on maternal and infant mortality reduction initiatives. WLF improves global health by improving local health capacity, by supporting operational research, by developing public policy and by delivering public education. The organization’s areas of emphasis are tobacco control, maternal and infant mortality prevention, tuberculosis, asthma, and child lung health. For more information, please visit

For more information, please contact Jorge Alday, World Lung Foundation, at +1.212.639.0070 or

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