60 percent doctors in China still smoke

April 27th, 2010 - 9:47 am ICT by IANS  

Beijing, April 27 (IANS) China has not been able to put down its brakes on smoking because a majority of doctors - 60 percent - themselves can’t say no to the habit, a media report said.
Even though China’s ministry of health banned smoking in medical institutions in May 2009 and ordered that all health administrations and at least half of all health institutions should be smoke-free by 2010, medical staff are still violating the law.

“About 60 percent of medical workers and professors are smokers. Some of them even smoke boldly in hospitals or schools,” Li Xinhua, in charge of tobacco-control publicity and education with the ministry of health, was quoted as saying by Global Times Monday.

A stop-smoking campaign is now a top priority goal for the country’s anti-tobacco efforts, he said.

“Doctors and medical teachers should behave themselves and set a good example for others in tobacco control,” he said.

Li said some medical staff members continue smoking “out of apparent disregard” for evidence that smoking can cause cancer.

China has the world’s highest population of smokers, and ranks first in tobacco output and sales, according to Li.

According to a ministry report on smoking in China, more than one million people die annually from diseases caused by smoking. The annual death toll will increase to two million in 2020, and three million in 2050, the report said.

In 2005, the nation produced 1.8 trillion cigarettes and by the end of 2008, the number exceeded 2.2 trillion. Production may be higher in 2009, Li said.

The ministry is now targeting farmers to give up tobacco plantation and trying to “convince them that the tobacco industry can be replaced by other industries that are more healthy, sustainable and profitable.” Zhao Yaqiao of Yunnan Agricultural University was quoted as saying.

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