Anti-smoking clinics fail to help China kick the habit
Beijing, May 30 : In a country of 300 million smokers and where two trillion cigarettes are produced every year, "smoking cessation clinics" seemed to be a promising business. But the results such clinics have produced show how far off the mark such an effort was.
According to the latest figures, 600,000 people develop lung cancer every year in China, accounting for one-third of the world's total.
The smoking cessation clinic at the Chongqing Fifth People's Hospital in Chongqing metropolis received only 10 patients last year, down from 100 in 2008 when the clinic was set up, Xinhua reported.
In Beijing, where 29 percent of 20 million residents are smokers, most of the city's hospitals have shut down their smoking cessation clinics.
A doctor in Chongqing said one course of treatment costs about 2,000 yuan (around $320). That may seem like a lot, but is actually less than what a heavy smoker might spend on cigarettes each year.
However, many smokers, even after successfully kicking the habit after receiving treatment, eventually start smoking again, he said.
To promote tobacco control and help smokers quit, Beijing's municipal health bureau announced this month that the costs of smoking cessation treatments will be covered in the public health insurance programme.
With nearly two trillion cigarettes produced in 2011, China is the world's top producer and consumer of tobacco.
The country is also home to over 300 million smokers, and about 740 million people are subject to passive smoking through inhalation of second-hand smoke.
However, there is no national legislation on tobacco control in China.
Although a government regulation issued in 2011 bans smoking in enclosed public spaces, enforcement of the regulation has been considered very poor because it does not stipulate any penalties for offenders.(IANS)