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Last Updated: Monday, 29 August 2005, 03:59 GMT 04:59 UK
China backs anti-tobacco treaty
Chinese smoker
More than 35% of China's population smoke
The world's largest tobacco consumer, China, has ratified an international treaty aimed at curbing tobacco-related deaths, state media has reported.

The country's top legislature announced shortly afterwards it was banning all tobacco vending machines, even in self-administered Hong Kong and Macau.

China has around 350 million smokers, some 36% of the population, according to the World Health Organization.

There are 1.2 million tobacco-related deaths annually, says a China watchdog.

China sold 1,798bn cigarettes in 2003, making it the world's largest consumer of cigarettes, according to the state news agency Xinhua.

The National People's Congress announced its decision to ratify the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on Sunday, Xinhua said.

Parliament leaders "supported the treaty by announcing that China will ban tobacco vending machines of any kind," the news agency said.

The treaty requires all countries signed up to it to prohibit the sale of tobacco to minors and ban tobacco-related advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

A WHO spokeswoman told the BBC that 78 countries were now party to the treaty, which came into force on 27 February this year.

Jean King, Director of Tobacco Control at Cancer Research UK, said: "Tobacco kills over a million people a year in China, so it is greatly encouraging that the Chinese government has ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

"By banning cigarette vending machines, China is taking an important step towards reducing the toll taken by tobacco on its citizens.

"If the FCTC is to be successful, member countries must take practical action on all the measures it stipulates."


Your comments

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

With or without vending machines, it is still too convenient to purchase cigarettes in Hong Kong and most parts of China. You have 7/11s at every block and they open 24/7. Recently there has even been a drop in prices of Marlborough cigarettes. It makes it almost impossible for anyone to quit. Also, everyone is smoking everywhere. However, I do not think that alcohol consumption will increase if in fact that people do smoke less.
Kennic Tong, Hong Kong

I've noticed that most cigarette machines are at a perfect height for children. Any adult who has used one knows that you have to bend down to pick them up, and they're at a perfect eye-level for children. They shouldn't be anywhere where minors are.
Bruce Manning, Austin, Texas, United States

I think that banning the products or methods only push it into the underground. The real issue is a little deeper, why would we want to kill ourselves and put major stress on our society because we just do things that way already? Maybe a more honest and direct educational point of view for children can be implemented. It's good for the kids to make their own mind up that smoking is what it is.
Pras Anand, Madrid, Spain

A long journey begins with the first step. Its a move in the right direction.
Daniel Kurtz, Melbourne, Australia

Really, banning the vending machines will only lessen the accessibility of the cigarettes, old habits die hard, and with creative compliance in a rampage, smokers will find other ways. Less smoking could mean more alcohol, and subsequently another problem will we be banning beer machines too? Less vending machines could simply mean more sundry shops selling them in the amount of cigarettes remain the same. It does not rid the problem, merely changing the avenues in which people can get their cigarettes.
Paul, KL, Malaysia

Well, I think it would be a little bit helpful preventing people, especially teenagers, from easily buying cigarettes but I believe that not only just removing tobacco vending machines but also making buying cigarettes difficult would be much more helpful. Like if I want to buy cigarettes, then I would have to walk a long distant and to pay a lot of money.
Shin, Jeong Hoon, Seoul, Korea

It will have a certain impact for sure, but enough to slow down the number of deaths because of smoking is uncertain. China needs to fully understand that it is in its own interests and its people's interests for it to have a comprehensive strategy and national policy on smoking-cessation.
Yitzak Levy, Tel Aviv, Israel





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