Part of complete coverage on
China, world's leading tobacco user, moves to ban indoor public smoking
January 9, 2014 -- Updated 0658 GMT (1458 HKT)
A man smokes a cigarette on a street in Shanghai on January 8.
- China moves to ban public indoor smoking by end of 2014
- Half of Chinese men smoke, according to survey
- China is largest consumer and producer of tobacco
Hong Kong (CNN) -- China, the world's largest tobacco consumer, is aiming to ban indoor smoking in public areas by the end of the year.
About one in three cigarettes smoked in the world is in China, according to the World Health Organization. And more than half of Chinese men smoke, according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey in 2010.
Although the nation's health ministry issued guidelines in 2011 to ban smoking in places like hotels and restaurants, they haven't been "strictly enforced," according to Xinhua, China's state-run news agency.
The China's National Health and Family Commission is now working on a tobacco control law with clear punishments, according to Xinhua.
China's smoking habit
The country's health authorities estimate over a million deaths from tobacco-related diseases every year. The WHO warns that if tobacco use is not decreased in China, these deaths will increase to 3 million by 2050.
Last month, Chinese government officials were told not to smoke in public places such as hospitals, public transport or schools to set a good example for the public.
The latest moves by the Chinese government on tobacco are "hopeful," said Dr. Judith Mackay, the senior adviser at the World Lung Foundation, who examines tobacco issues in China.
About 32 Chinese cities have passed their own rules to restrict public smoking, she added.
"China stands on its own in the magnitude of the problem," said Mackay. "Unless there is change in China, we won't proceed further in reducing the tobacco epidemic in the world."
Tobacco use in China has far-reaching consequences, she said.
"This isn't a health problem. It's a huge economic problem. There's all these things ranging from medical and health care costs, the costs to the families and there's the cost of secondhand smoke."
Part of complete coverage on
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 0929 GMT (1729 HKT)
Christians in eastern China keep watch in Wenzhou, where authorities have demolished churches and removed crosses.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 0538 GMT (1338 HKT)
Home-grown hip-hop appeals to a younger generation but its popularity has not translated into record deals and profits for budding rap artists.
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 0545 GMT (1345 HKT)
Reforms to the grueling gaokao - the competitive college entrance examination - don't make the grade, says educator Jiang Xueqin.
September 5, 2014 -- Updated 1218 GMT (2018 HKT)
Beijing grapples with reports from Iraq that a Chinese national fighting for ISIS has been captured.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 0200 GMT (1000 HKT)
CNN's David McKenzie has tasted everything from worms to grasshoppers while on the road; China's cockroaches are his latest culinary adventure.
September 5, 2014 -- Updated 0057 GMT (0857 HKT)
Beijing rules only candidates approved by a nominating committee can run for Hong Kong's chief executive.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1914 GMT (0314 HKT)
China warns the United States to end its military surveillance flights near Chinese territory.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0312 GMT (1112 HKT)
China has produced elite national athletes but some argue the emphasis on winning discourages children. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout reports
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0513 GMT (1313 HKT)
Chinese are turning to overseas personal shoppers to get their hands on luxury goods at lower prices.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 0908 GMT (1708 HKT)
Experts say rapidly rising numbers of Christians are making it harder for authorities to control the religion's spread.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 0452 GMT (1252 HKT)
"I'm proud of their moral standing," says Harvey Humphrey. His parents are accused of corporate crimes in China.
August 6, 2014 -- Updated 1942 GMT (0342 HKT)
A TV confession detailing a life of illegal gambling and paid-for sex has capped the dramatic fall of one of China's most high-profile social media celebrities.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 0410 GMT (1210 HKT)
President Xi Jinping's campaign to punish corrupt Chinese officials has snared its biggest target -- where can the campaign go from here?
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 0712 GMT (1512 HKT)
All you need to know about the tainted meat produce that affects fast food restaurants across China, Hong Kong, and Japan.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 0230 GMT (1030 HKT)
Some savvy individuals in China are claiming naming rights to valuable foreign brands. Here's how companies can combat them.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 0911 GMT (1711 HKT)
Is the Chinese president a true reformist or merely a "dictator" in disguise? CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz dissects the leader's policies
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 0344 GMT (1144 HKT)
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
Today's five most popular stories