Last year I blogged about the global disease burden of smoking. The BBC is reporting there may be some progress on that front.
China–the largest manufacturer of cigarettes in the world–announced a ban on public smoking, effective May 1, 2011. Given that 25% of China smokes (equivalent to ALL of the population in the United States), resulting in one million smoking-related deaths per year (20% of the global total), the effects of this policy may be tremendous.
The policy also bans cigarette vending machines in public areas while initiating a public awareness campaign on the dangers of smoking. However, smoking in the workplace will still be permitted.
My guess is that the Chinese government started to consider the health care costs of treating millions of people with emphysema, lung cancer, and heart disease (as well as the countless other ailments smoking precipitates), and realized it was easier to try to curb the nation’s habit.
While the finer details of enforcement haven’t been worked out yet, I think the repressive totalitarian state will be able to come up with something…