BEIJING - A ban on smoking will be written into the capital's municipal regulations as the city increases its anti-smoking efforts.
Measures banning smoking are on the legislative agenda and the government is expected to pass the regulations, Zhang Yin, director of the legal office from the Beijing Municipal People's Congress, told China Daily at the top legislature 2012 working conference.
Although there is a smoking ban in public places, it has not been well enforced, Zhang said. The new regulations are expected strengthen enforcement, he said.
"Smoking is a serious problem that the public has complained about. We must figure out how to enforce a smoking ban," Zhang said. "What we are doing now is to integrate all our research on this and develop the groundwork for lawmakers to write the regulations," he added.
He did not disclose any specifics or details on what the regulations would say, or a timeline for when they will be passed.
As the biggest tobacco producer and consumer in the world, China has more than 300 million smokers, and 740 million are exposed to the second hand smoke. Some 1.2 million Chinese die from tobacco-related diseases every year, according to Vice-Minister of Health Huang Jiefu.
In a survey of some 40,000 students nationwide conducted by the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control, 15.8 percent of the high school students smoke and 22.5 percent say they want to try smoking.
"Smoking has become quite prevalent among students," said association spokesman Suo Chao. "Twelve to 14 year-olds are especially vulnerable."
According to the World Health Organization, there are 1.25 billion smokers worldwide. Six million die from tobacco-related diseases every year, and the figure will soar to 8 million in 2030 if the trend continues at this pace.