If China wants to compete and become a super power—they cannot afford to continue losing people to tobacco related illnesses. The current ties between Chinese government and cigarette companies can affect the country drastically in the years to come. Last week, they failed to meet their five-year plan to implement a smoking ban at all indoor public spaces. Right now the country is facing an estimated loss of 2 million Chinese people because of tobacco related illnesses.
Why bother making smoke-free laws, which are not going to be enforced? People are receiving minimal fines whenever they violate these laws, giving less of an incentive to actually follow them. This is very similar to California’s hands-free law which was put forth to eliminate texting while driving and the use of cell phones. But similar to the Chinese, Americans are still texting and talking on their phones while driving. The law has reduced the usage but has not completely eliminated the problem. Reason being—cops are not really enforcing the law and when people do get caught, the consequence is minimal.
Of course, Chinese smokers are not going to push or be advocates of smoke free laws in the country. So it is up to the Chinese non-smokers to speak up and demand that their health be taken into consideration while they are out in public spaces.
A Chinese tobacco company has even managed to have a school named Sichuan Tobacco Hope Primary School after they provided tobacco money to have the school rebuilt. A smoking culture is being normalized at such a young age.
It may take a few more years for smoking in public places to be banned, but China still has hope. The country has to start somewhere and it started last year at the World Expo. Following the expo, Shanghai banned indoor smoking at schools, hospitals, shopping malls, and banks. If the government can help enforce and support all the advocates for such laws then China still has a chance in the years to come.
How is it that the Chinese government has no problem controlling media outlets but cannot enforce anti-smoking laws?