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WHO guidelines could help China decrease smoking deaths by 13 million

Extinguished cigarettes are seen in an ashtray at the Shanghai Railway Station (REUTERS/Aly Song)

China could prevent more than 13 million smoking-related deaths by 2050 if it adhered more closely to anti-smoking guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO), Medical News Today reported.

China signed on to WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2003 but has failed to fully implement the group’s tobacco-control policies. The policies include measures such as monitoring of the prevalence of tobacco use, creation of smoke-free spaces, treatment of tobacco addiction, taxes on tobacco products, enforcement of health warnings on tobacco products and marketing bans.

While China has implemented taxes on tobacco products, they have failed to increase retail prices. And though they have banned smoking on public transportation, they have not implemented smoking restrictions in other public places, according to Medical News Today.

In a study published in BMJ, researchers utilized fertility and mortality data from the United Nations to predict how many smoking-related deaths could be prevented if China were to adhere to all of the FCTC’s policies.

Overall, the researchers calculated that increasing the retail cost of cigarettes could decrease smoking by 13 percent among men and 12 percent among women by 2050. Furthermore, they predicted that implementing smoke-free air policies could decrease smoking by 10 percent by 2050 and enforcing a marketing ban could cut smoking levels by 4 percent during the same period.

If all of these measures were taken, China could decrease the prevalence of smoking among its residents by 40 percent, saving nearly 13 million lives, the researchers noted.

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