Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
China to ban smoking for Olympics -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

ELEANOR HALL: Now to China's monumental quit smoking campaign. The Chinese have the world's biggest
smoking habit with the population last year smoking more than two trillion cigarettes. But with the
Beijing Olympics now just eight weeks away, the government is trying to force a mass reversal with
a ban on smoking during the Olympic Games.

It is a move that will deal a serious blow to China's powerful tobacco industry if it works, as
Emma Alberici reports

EMMA ALBERICI: From August the eighth the day Beijing opens its Olympics Games, no one in the
Chinese capital will be allowed to smoke anywhere in hotels, restaurants, taxis, arenas and public
buildings.

Even the Health Minister Gao Chiang will be forced to kick the habit.

An estimated 350-million Chinese smoke and five million more take it up every year. They're mostly
men. In fact 60 per cent of Chinese males now smoke. As a way of encouraging the masses to actually
quit smoking it might be a struggle, given the government monopoly that runs the tobacco industry
has long promoted smoking as helpful for everything from heart disease to Tourette syndrome.

The cost is also not particularly prohibitive with cigarettes costing as little as 30 cents for a
pack of 20.

And a Morgan Stanley report in 2006 revealed just how crucial the China national tobacco
corporation was to the Chinese economy generating more than $30-billion in taxes and profits. The
tobacco industry is the government's single biggest taxpayer.

Professor Anthony Rodgers is the head of the school of population health at the University of
Auckland.

ANTHONY RODGERS: It's obviously a very bold move to get a whole city smoke free. It will be very
interesting to see just how successful it is and whether it translates into more people wanting to
quit.

EMMA ALBERICI: What are likely to be the physical affects of forcing people to give up smoking for
a two week period?

ANTHONY RODGERS: Compared to the harms of smoking they are absolutely trifling. Yes, I mean and I
think the other thing people don't realise is that smoking itself is what's causing the stress, so
there's this perception that smoking reduces stress but actually smokers have higher stress levels
because stress in induced by waiting for your next fix and if that stress is or isn't there then
you actually have less stress overall.

Smoking is a stress inducing habit, not a stress relieving. Of course it's relieving when you have
your next cigarette, but its stress inducing for all the time when you're waiting for your next
cigarette. So sure, the withdrawal weeks are hard, it's a very highly addictive substance, but
overall it's a stress reducing thing to give up smoking.

EMMA ALBERICI: Do you think this initiative might actually cause a reduction in the number of
people smoking in China?

ANTHONY RODGERS: Oh yeah, yeah. I mean there's lots of evidence that this will prompt a lot of
people to give up. There's anecdotal evidence like when people have to go without cigarettes for a
day on long haul flights and they do it successfully and they think oh well that wasn't that bad
and they manage to make it right through to giving up.

EMMA ALBERICI: There are some key questions that remain unanswered about the Olympic smoking ban.
How will it be policed and how will people found smoking be dealt with by the Chinese authorities?

ELEANOR HALL: Emma Alberici reporting.