Anti-Smoking Initiative Targets China’s Medical Professionals

China Daily explores how a new anti-smoking initiative in China targets the country’s medical professionals. According to the newspaper, “China is the world’s largest tobacco producer and consumer,” with “350 million smokers, plus 450 million people exposed to second-hand smoke.” Annually, 1 million deaths are smoking-related, according to China’s Ministry of Health.

Through the five-year-long “China Medical Tobacco Initiative” – funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, supported by the Ministry of Health, and coordinated by the China Medical Board (CMB) — 13 medical universities and their affiliated hospitals will work to implement smoke-free campuses and hospitals, incorporate tobacco control into medical education and improve the hospital services available for patients who want to quit smoking.

The newspaper writes, “International evidence shows that the medical profession is a critical and powerful force in tobacco control. In China, however, studies show more than 50 percent of male doctors smoke. Smoking by doctors not only goes against their ‘health ambassador’ image, but also affects their credibility when they attempt to help patients, says Professor [Lincoln] Chen” of the CMB. The program’s ultimate goal is a smoke-free China, according to Chen (Ru, 7/29).