"Quit smoking, Dad!" -- China's puffing fathers receive Men's Health Day message
BEIJING, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- Smoking dads in China received a simple message from their sons and daughters for Men's Health Day this year: Please quit!
More than 2,000 elementary school pupils took part in a monthlong nationwide writing competition organized by the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, among others, to reduce the harm of second-hand smoking to children.
The participants submitted either short essays or drawings they created as they considered the best way to persuade their fathers to quit tobacco.
The winners, numbering 200 in total, were announced at a ceremony in Beijing on the eve of Men's Health Day, which falls on Monday.
In a winning drawing, a girl grinds chili pepper and stuffs it into cigarettes as her father chain-smokes. The title: helping Dad quit smoking.
China has over 300 million smokers, most of whom are men.
The country has in recent years taken strong measures on tobacco control and aims to place over 80 percent of the population under smoke-free legal protection in the next decade.
Smoking has been banned in indoor public spaces in a growing list of cities. From now to 2030, the ban will extend to across the country, covering indoor public spaces, workplaces and public transport, according to a government action plan.
However, non-smokers, children in particular, may still face the danger of exposure to second-hand smoke at home.
Inhaling second-hand smoke is just as toxic as smoking cigarettes, if not more so, said Xu Guihua, a former executive vice director of the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control.
Wu Jing, a professor with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said children from families where one parent smokes have higher risks of both respiratory and asthmatic diseases than those from non-smoking families.
The professor said smoking is bad for children as well as for fathers themselves.
"People are well aware of the connection between smoking and lung cancer. But they might not be so aware that smoking is also linked to high blood pressure, diabetes and coronary heart disease," Wu said.
Xu said the harm was even more serious for children and they might be more likely to take up smoking following the example of their father.