Beijing, June 12: Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has undertaken a new mission – to raise awareness in China about the dangers of passive smoking.
Gates is partnering Robin Li, chief executive of Baidu Inc – which operates China’s most popular search engine – in a foundation that would use traditional as well as online media to pinpoint the dangers of passive smoking – inhaling smoke from the cigarettes of others.
‘Both (methods) would let people know about the damage of forced smoking and give some education about how in a very polite way they can ask people not to put them in that situation,’ the Shanghai Daily quoted Gates as saying.
According to government statistics, passive smoking is linked to the death of at least one million people in the country every year. This could rise to three million by 2030, Vice Health Minister Huang Jiefu has said.
At present, nearly 30 percent of adults – about 300 million people – smoke. More than double that number are estimated to suffer exposure to secondhand smoke, which leads to increased asthma attacks, ear and respiratory infections, and cancer, the health ministry said.
‘Our country has made progress in controlling smoking, but speaking overall, we still have a tough road ahead,’ Huang said. ‘The effect on our country’s future could be great.’
New rules banning smoking in places like hotels and restaurants took effect in May, but still exclude workplaces and fail to specify punishments for violators.
China has still not banned smoking at indoor public venues.