Newswise — Georgia State University’s School of Public Health has named five major municipalities in China that will partner with the school on efforts to improve policies and programs to reduce smoking in a nation that produces more tobacco and has more smokers than any other in the world.

The project, China Tobacco Control Partnership-Tobacco Free Cities, will focus on a group of municipalities whose leaders have shown willingness to support tobacco control efforts and where public health organizations are in a position to lead the efforts.

The cities are:

•Chongqing. With a population 33 million, this is one of only four cities in China under the central government’s direct control. It is home to 3 million smokers.•Chengdu. The capital of Sichuan Province has a population of 14 million people and has implemented tobacco control programs in government agencies, hospitals and schools as it works on a revised city-wide smoking ban.•Wuhan. The tobacco industry has a strong presence in this city of 10 million, capital of Hebei Province. Health workers in this city have a higher smoking rate than in many Chinese cities.•Xi’an, population 8.6 million, is the capital of Shaanxi Province and an important center of research, education and industry. It is also home to the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.•Xiamen, population 3.7 million, is an economic and tourist hub. In 2014, Xiamen established China’s first smoke-free business street and the city has promoted tobacco control work under the motto “Beautiful Xiamen, Health City.”

Pam Redmon, executive director of the China Tobacco Control Partnership and administrative director of the School of Public Health’s Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science, led a round of training sessions with city and health department leaders the week of April 20 to kick off the initiative.

"Cities have an important role to play in changing the landscape of tobacco use, and may be the driving force to change the social norms of tobacco use in China,” Redmon said. “We look forward to partnering with our Chinese colleagues to support tobacco control work aimed at protecting non-smokers from exposure to harmful secondhand smoke, preventing initiation of smoking and promoting cessation among smokers.”

The efforts expand previous Tobacco Free Cities work in China through partnerships with China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission (formerly the Ministry of Health), ThinkTank Research Center for Health Development, a nongovernmental group based in Beijing, and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The project is also being led by Dr. Michael Eriksen, dean of the School of Public Health, and Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, vice president for global health at Emory University and former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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