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Beijing sends out positive 'smoke' signals
Publication Date : 20-09-2013
Beijing has seen a decline in smoking in the past 12 months thanks to efforts in campuses to stub out the habit, a survey suggests.
The capital ranks second in the smoke-free city league, according to a recent poll of 800 colleges and universities by the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control .
The city ranked 23rd in 2011.
"There has been an obvious improvement in setting up nonsmoking environments in colleges and universities over the past year," Xu Guihua, deputy director of the association, said at a news conference on Wednesday.
The survey studied signs of smoking in colleges, such as the number of ashtrays, butts, anti-smoking logos and signs as well as the number of people actually lighting up.
The survey saw clear signs of a reduction in tobacco use over two years.
It found that 194 colleges and institutes, 24.25 per cent, qualified as tobacco-free campuses. This was a marked improvement on 2012 when only 139 of 800 colleges and universities reached this standard. In 2011 it was just 16.
Political and other majors, including, surprisingly, sports had more smokers and even cigarettes available on their section of campus, while the medical and language majors were much better off, the report said.
Chongqing, Beijing and Shanghai were in the top three for tobacco-free campuses, while Hainan and Fujian provinces and the Tibet autonomous region were in the bottom three.
"The development is very unbalanced nationwide," said association spokesman Suo Chao. "While some provinces and cities have achieved great improvement in getting tobacco off campuses, cigarettes are still rampant in other areas."
Cigarette butts were found in 67.88 per cent of colleges investigated, a 5.32 per cent decrease from 2011.
All colleges and institutes are equipped with anti-smoking signs, but only 56.5 per cent displayed these signs in 2011.
No tobacco advertisements were found during the survey this year. In 2012, 1.75 per cent displayed advertisements and 2.4 per cent in 2011.
Young people aged 18 to 21 were most likely to take up smoking, Suo said, while adding that it is necessary to restrict the influences they are exposed to and come up with measures to provide them with a smoke-free environment.
China has more than 300 million smokers. Another 740 million people are also exposed to secondhand smoke.
Each year 1.2 million Chinese die from tobacco-related diseases.