6.9% of teenagers smoke, 180m children hit by passive smoking

About 6.9 percent of Chinese teenagers smoke, 19.9 percent of them have tried smoking at least once, and 180 million children in the country have been harmed by passive smoking, a Chinese health department official said Sunday, citing survey data.

Habits acquired during teenage years could leave their mark on a person’s whole life, Li Nong, deputy director of publicity department at the National Health Commission, said Sunday, adding that efforts to control smoking among teenagers should be stepped up.

Eighteen cities have imposed a smoking ban in public places, but controlling  the habit in China faces challenges, Li was quoted as saying by news website chinanews.com.

The country’s target of reducing the smoking rate among people over 15 years of age to less than 20 percent by 2030 still has a long way to go, Li added.

Deputy Director of Chinese Association on Tobacco Control, Liao Wenke, said innovative education methods, which teenagers can and are willing to accept, should be initiated to educate them about the harmful effects of smoking.

The implementation since June 2015 of the city-wide indoor smoking ban in Beijing, dubbed the “toughest – ever smoking ban,” raked in 1.12 million yuan ($175,252) in fines as of April 2016.

As of March 2018, the rate of smoking in public places in Shanghai dropped nearly 9 percent after the introduction of a ban in all enclosed public spaces since March 2017.

Before the ban, the rate was 25.1 percent, which came down to 16.3 percent.

China promised to introduce a smoking ban in public places throughout the country from January 9, 2011.