Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates is on a mission in China. His objective has little to do with the company he founded, especially given that 90% of Windows copies in that country are pirated. Instead of piracy, his concerns are much more universal to the global population - the longevity of human life at risk due to smokers and people inhaling secondhand smoke.
According to Radio Australia News, 30% of China's 1.3 billion people - about 300 million - are smokers. A million of the Chinese population die from illnesses brought by smoking each year. Until last month, people were free to smoke inside buildings. Smoking is now banned in places such as hotels and restaurants, but workers in workplaces can still smoke indoors. Smokers and non-smokers alike are both at risk from secondhand smoke wafting around in tightly confined spaces.
Gates is hoping to change that. During his visit to China, he worked with Internet companies to encourage people against smoking around non-smokers, and for non-smokers to exercise their right to a healthy working environment. In a statement, Gates said:
I think we can be pioneers in how online media both lets people know about the damage of forced smoking and gives them some education about how in a very polite way they can ask people not to put them in that situation.
This alliance will let us bring new resources and new creativity to that, both the traditional media and the online media, and I think we can be pioneers in how online media, both lets people know about the damage of forced smoking and gives them some education about how in a very polite way they can ask people not to put them in that situation.
The Chinese government is hoping to tackle the problems of smoking with actions that go beyond the recently introduced rules, according to the Chinese health minister Huang Jiefu. Huang warns that if nothing is done to alleviate this problem, the number of Chinese dying from smoking-related illnesses will increase threefold by 2030.
Image Credit: Stock photography from sxc.hu