Steps Toward a Non-smoking Nation
Steps Toward a Non-smoking Nation
  • Choi Kim Taeeun, Chang Chun He
  • 승인 2014.11.07 02:54
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Conflict Leads to Failure of Antismoking Policy

Contrary to many countries that are trying hard to reduce the smoking rates, China is having problems between the central government and the local government.  China has intensified the antismoking policy in order to get rid of the image of ‘Smoker’s heaven.’ However, in certain areas the official document forced the local government and the public enterprise to sell 2,500 cigarettes and even promised one million Yuan as an incentive.  Also, in a different area, they made a cigarette commercial by using the official document advertising that it is a serving cigarette.  China’s tobacco companies produce approximately 1.7 trillion cigarettes, which are 2.5 more than America that ranks the world second in producing cigarettes.  The Chinese health authority announced that every year approximately one million people suffer from smoke related disease.  The central government is trying to make a non-smoking atmosphere by banning public servants to not smoke in public areas and during work hours.  However, the local governments are having a hard time overcoming the temptation of tobacco companies’ donation, sponsorship and also the benefits they can earn from selling cigarettes.  Moreover, the legislation of banning tobacco companies’ advertisement and sponsorship is being delayed for a long time.  Thus, the antismoking policy’s power is ineffective.  Chinese specialists say that if the Chinese government does not change the situation in China, 2 million Chinese will suffer from disease related to smoking in 2025.  As said from the specialists as well, China’s situation is very bad and it is getting worse.  Since the conflict between the governments has yet to end, the smoking rates are not decreasing, which is causing problems that danger the lives of their people.


Step by Step to Healthy Nation

Korea has set smoking regulations since the National Health Promotion Act was enacted in 1995, starting to announce cigarettes’ harmfulness publically and increase the price of cigarettes about 500 won in 2004.  After WTO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) ratification, which is the international agreement among 170 countries on tobacco control, the government made a variety of smoking regulations such as the establishment of clinic services that help people quit smoking in a stress-free environment as well as prohibiting smoking in public areas.  Despite these strong regulations, according to OECD report Health at a Glance 2013, Korea’s decrease in the smoking rate of adults was only 11%, much lower than other OECD countries’ average of 21%.  The rate of adult male smokers is 49%, one of the highest smoking rates among OECD countries, and the rate of adult female smokers has grown continuously from 1986 to 2014.  So, Korean government announces new tobacco price policy that increase tobacco price from 2,500 won to 4,500 won expecting drastic decrease of smoking rate.  However, most citizens have doubts about effectiveness of the policy because there aren’t plans of non-price smoking policy although it is important as much as price policy.  That’s why people are saying the policy is not for health of citizen but for securing tax revenues.  To make sure the purpose of policy, the government should provide responsible data to prove its effectiveness and reliable plans that is going to be acted by increased cigarette tax.  Also, before acting tobacco price policy, the policy should get its validity by national consensus through active public discussion.


Strict Law made Non-smoking Nation

Australia once faced great trouble because of smoking; its health budget burden was over 370 million dollars every year, and 90,000 people had died over a 60-year period because of smoking.  Therefore, the government has strengthened tobacco regulation law.  It has one of the highest prices on cigarettes among OECD nations; the price of a pack of cigarettes is 15~20 dollars.  Also, smoking is banned in almost every public places such as restaurant, school, and work place since 2005.  The strongest tobacco legislation is Australia’s Plain Packaging Tobacco Legislation enforced from 2012.  This legislation made all cigarette pack designs to be a blurred olive color, which is known as the most unattractive color for smokers, with disgusting photos depicting mouth cancers protruding eyeballs, or lungs addicted by cigarette chemicals.  When Australian government founded the legislation, global tobacco companies sued the government claiming it infringed their intellectual property rights.  However, the supreme court of Australia ruled in favor of the government acknowledging its purpose for promoting citizen welfare.  Now, the sales of cigarettes in Australia had fallen down about 3.4% in 2013, and the rate of smokers fell to about 15.4% in 2010 to 12.8% in 2013.  What made Australia changed were strict enforcement and constant policy management.  Korea has lots of good tobacco regulation laws, which are strong as the law of Australia.  However, the policies are not enforced well, so problems still maintain.  For example, the rate of non-smoker’s exposure to tobacco smoke in public places is 55.5% in 2014 although non-smoking in public places was legislated in 2012.  To make real change, Korea should enforce well-structured smoking monitoring system.


Strong Policy is the Answer

Japan was also once called as the ’Smoker’s heaven.’ The street was full of smokers and they even said that the son would smoke in front of their father, and the wife would smoke in front of her husband’s mother.  This shows how smoking in Japan was a universal phenomenon.  However, Japan started to make a change because of a horrible incident.  On 2002, a man that was smoking while walking threw away the cigarette butt on the street.  Unfortunately, it hit a child’s eye and made him blind.  After this incident, smoking while walking became banned in the street of Shibuya.  This policy is spreading through Japan and now the whole street of Tokyo does not allow smoking.  The reason why many Japanese smokers comply on this policy easily is not only because of the fine they have to pay.  It is also because there are a lot of smoking zones for the convenience of smokers.  There were changes in the Japan Railroad-Japan subway-as well.  Before, there was a smoking zone and a non-smoking zone separated inside the station.  However, many citizens complained about the separation in the station.  Thus, on 2009, the station became completely smoking free.  Moreover, on 2010 the Japan government has increased the cigarette price to 30%.  Because of the significant increase in price, the cigarette price that was about 400 Yen became 600 Yen.  The effect of this policy decreased the smoker rate to 1% less than the year before.  The male smoker rate has decreased 2% than the year before.  Because the Japanese government enforced a tough policy, it was possible to decrease the smoker rate.  Enforcing laws and making people to comply the rule needs a lot of support from not only the citizens but also from the government who enforced the law.

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