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May 31, 2014

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Local boys more likely to smoke than girls

BOYS of middle school age in Shanghai are almost four times as likely as girls to smoke, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said yesterday.

According to a survey of 3,155 local children aged 12-15, 2.2 percent of boys and 0.6 percent of girls said they were regular smokers.

Of those polled, 10.5 percent of boys and 5.6 percent of girls said they “tried” smoking last year.

Across the country, more than 10 percent of boys and 1.8 percent of girls of middle school age are smokers, with the numbers higher among students in rural areas, according to a report by the People’s Daily.

About 75 percent of the Shanghai youngsters polled said they had not been refused when buying cigarettes for other people, though only 50 percent said they had seen advertisements for tobacco products.

It is illegal in China for shopkeepers to sell cigarettes to anyone under 16, though the law is regularly flouted.

Mao Qun’an, a spokesman for the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said people who sell tobacco to children should be punished.

“The relevant laws must be fully implemented if they are to have any effect,” he said.

In the Shanghai poll, more than 83 percent of respondents said they were aware of the health risks associated with smoking, but just 60 percent said they supported it being banned in public places.

About 57 percent said they had been exposed to secondhand smoke at outdoor public places, while 52 percent said they had experienced it at indoor public places and 42 percent had been exposed to it at home.

In response to calls for a ban on smoking in all indoor public places, the Shanghai People’s Congress has asked legal experts to suggest ways to revise the law. Currently, smoking is banned in schools, hospitals,  supermarkets, Internet cafes and on public transport. It is allowed in hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues, but such places are required to cordon off smoking areas.

Individuals who break the law can be fined between 50 (US$8) and 200 yuan, while firms face fines of up to 30,000 yuan.

The results of the survey were released ahead of World No Tobacco Day, which falls today.


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