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Tobacco control policies are now a key component of a pilot programme to tackle the escalating rates of non-communicable diseases [NCDs] in China. The goal of the pilot is to standardise an holistic approach to NCDs – reducing population exposure to risk factors; early diagnosis and treatment; and increased health education. 

The programme was launched in 2011, but until now it has not included strong measures to reduce tobacco use, despite this being a major risk factor for NCDs.

The Union has been working with the National Center for Chronic and Non-communicable Disease Control and Prevention [NCNCD] for the last three years to get measures proven to reduce tobacco use integrated into the programme, which runs across 265 districts. Within these areas, all indoor public places must now be 100 percent smoke-free; tobacco advertising has been banned and all health centres and hospitals must provide cessation advice. Each district must also have a quitline.

‘At present, NCDs account for 70 percent of the disease burden in China, and 70 percent of premature deaths. And they are on the increase,’ said Dr Gan Quan, Director of The Union’s China office. ‘Integrating tobacco control into this innovative pilot project is vital for changing this trajectory. Tobacco control policies have a foundation of ten years’ evidence – they work.’

The Union will continue to partner with NCNCD to ensure the new tobacco control measures are well implemented across all 265 districts.

‘This development is a significant boost for tobacco control in China, where a draft national smoke-free law is still being reviewed by the State Council,’ said Dr Gan. ‘The Union’s tobacco control work in several major cities across the country has huge public support. This roll out will continue building momentum for the national law which is so acutely needed.’

‘NCDs are the leading cause of death in the world, and the pandemic is increasing rapidly. Prevention must become a new priority for governments,’ said Dr Ehsan Latif, Director of The Union’s Department of Tobacco Control. ‘Tobacco control policies have been developed, implemented and proven to work over the last ten years, and experts from around the world have collaborated to refine them. Embedding these tobacco control policies in its broader approach to NCDs will enable the Chinese government to move more swiftly and effectively to tackle this escalating problem.’

The NCD programme is being overseen by the National Health and Family Planning Commission, Union grantees under the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use. Each district taking part must complete an annual assessment to review progress.

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