Outrage over video of Chinese toddler smoking

PHOTO: Outrage over video of Chinese toddler smoking

A video clip showing a Chinese toddler smoking brazenly while adults do nothing to stop him has ignited outrage online.

In the beginning of the two-minute long clip, a woman can be heard scolding him for smoking, but she does nothing to stop the child. Later in the video, she can be heard laughing, and appears to find the toddler's actions amusing.

Other onlookers can likewise be heard laughing at the child smoking like an 'old-pro.' Although there are several adults around, nobody makes an attempt to take the cigarette away from the child.

According to reports, the footage was obtained by liveleak.com and has sparked debate on China's addiction to tobacco.

Statistics from the National Health and Family Planning Commission show that China has 300 million smokers. Another 740 million are exposed to secondhand smoke, mostly in public places, China Daily reported.

The Dec 2013 China Daily report said that the smoking rate among men in China is 52.96 per cent, and more than 28 per cent of people older than 15 light up.

Notably, 1.4 million Chinese die from smoking-related diseases every year on the mainland, accounting for one-third of the world's total.

China's top authorities issued a notice in Dec 2013 prohibiting party and government officials from smoking in public to set an example for everyone to follow.

Experts said it is a milestone in the history of China's tobacco control and will promote a smoking ban in all public places. A number of Chinese provinces and cities have already enacted laws and regulations banning smoking at public places, but enforcement remains lax.

According to a WHO tobacco control assessment report, China ranked in the bottom 10 percent of all FCTC signatory countries and regions in terms of smoking bans at public places and workplaces, said the China Daily report.

Likewise, while China requires movies and TV dramas to reduce smoking scenes, little had been done to enforce the regulation.

According to a Chinese Association on Tobacco Control study in 2013 of 70 popular movies and TV dramas, only nine TV shows and 11 movies did not show smoking.

Of China's 30 top-rated TV dramas in 2012, 21 depicted smoking, with an average of two scenes with smoking per episode, according to the association's research. Smoking was shown in 29 of the nation's most popular movies last year, with an average of 14 scenes with smoking per film.

China Daily quoted Xu Guihua, the association's deputy director, as warning that teenagers are "16 times more likely to try smoking" when they see their idols lighting up on the large or small screen.

Yang Gonghuan, a tobacco control expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said authorities should do more to enforce no-smoking regulations and curb smoking scenes in films and TV.

"China's regulations against smoking are more a formality and have scant deterrent power," she said.