New quit-smoking plan gets support

Updated: 2012-04-20 17:23


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A plan to add a quit-smoking program to China's basic healthcare system sparked a hot debate since it was released by Chinese Health Minister Chen Zhu at a forum in Shanghai on March 31. But it now gets support from authorities, People's Daily reported on Friday.

"I strongly support adding smoking cessation counseling and medicine to the state's healthcare system," said Huang Jiefu, the vice minister of Health. "If we begrudge spending now, we have to pay more in the future because smoking is an important cause of many diseases."

Huang said the cost of helping a person quit smoking is about 500 yuan ($79) to 2,000 yuan, but lung cancer treatment costs would be over 100,000 yuan.

Statistics show about 1.2 million Chinese people die of smoking-related diseases every year, exceeding the total deaths from AIDS, tuberculosis, traffic accidents and suicide. So smoking is not a small public health problem, and quit-smoking programs should be added into the healthcare system, said Jiang Huan, vice director of the tobacco control office of the Chinese CDC.

Smoking addiction is a chronic disease, and drug therapy is a way to treat the disease. This will be good news for the 750 million people in China who are exposed to secondhand smoke, meaning 80 percent of people in China are at risk of smoking-related diseases, said Xiao Dan, an expert at the Beijing Breathing Disease Institute.