China Bans Smoking in Schools

Now schools will have to stop posting tobacco ads and selling cigarettes on campus

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A boy smokes a cigarette as he plays with fire crackers near Zaojie in southwest China's Sichuan province

China has banned cigarettes in schools as part of a nationwide initiative to stop smoking, state media reported Wednesday.

In China, which is the world’s largest consumer of cigarettes and tobacco products, smoking is common in public places like schools and hospitals. But the looming public health crisis has caused Chinese officials to intensify their efforts to kick the national habit.

The latest ban, imposed by the Ministry of Education, forbids smoking in kindergarten, elementary and middle schools, and requires schools set up designated smoking areas, Reuters reports. Smoking is also forbidden in vocational schools and all academic buildings. Schools are also now forbidden from posting tobacco advertisements on campus, seeking sponsorship from cigarette brands, and selling cigarettes in school canteens.

Anti-smoking efforts have always been difficult in China, because of the nation’s powerful tobacco lobby. But the school smoking ban is part of a larger effort to crack down on smoking in China’s public areas.