China, US launch smoke-free workplace campaign

Updated: 2012-09-07 18:38


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BEIJING - Chinese and US health authorities on Friday launched a joint program to promote 100-percent smoke-free workplaces in order to protect employees from the negative health effects of tobacco use.

Jointly established by China's Ministry of Health (MOH) and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the China-US Partnership on Smoke-free Workplaces pledged to recruit participants from companies operating in China by January 2014.

Smoking in workplaces is a serious health problem in China, as over 63 percent of employees are exposed to secondhand smoke in workplaces, said Huang Jiefu, China's vice health minister.

Huang stressed that tobacco control is an all-around systemic project that depends on the participation of companies.

"Establishing smoke-free workplaces is the responsibility and obligation of business leaders, as well as an important measure for promoting a company's image and protecting the health of its employees," said Huang.

Howard Koh, assistant secretary of the US HHS, added that the US government will work with their Chinese colleagues on educating the public, promoting cessation services at workplaces and encouraging companies to take part in the campaign.

The campaign has already attracted 59 leading enterprises operating in China, including Lenovo and General Electric, Koh said at Friday's ceremony.

Tobacco use is a leading cause of death in both China and the US, as over 1 million people in China and an estimated 443,000 people in the US die from tobacco-related diseases each year.

China has been creating smoke-free workplaces since 2009 and issued the landmark "China Report on the Health Hazards of Smoking" in May.