Tobacco-control advocates have called for an outright ban on smoking throughout China’s railway network, according to a Xinhua news agency story quoting the China Daily.

The call for a ban came after air-quality inspections reportedly found ‘dangerous levels of harmful pollutants’ on slow trains, most of which currently allow tobacco use in designated areas.

Researchers led by the Chinese Association of Tobacco Control examined four slow trains in October. Three of the trains had designated smoking areas, while one had banned tobacco use due to an earlier lawsuit filed by a passenger.

The story said that the results of the inspections, released yesterday, showed that the concentrations of PM2.5 particles [fine particulate matter] ‘in carriages of the three trains where passengers can smoke’ exceeded 500 micrograms per cubic meter, meaning the air could be considered hazardous to human health.

China’s high-speed rail networks all prohibit smoking, but passengers on slow trains can smoke in designated areas, often in the connecting areas between carriages.

Cui Xiaobo, deputy director of the Beijing Tobacco Control Association, said second-hand smoke was likely to cause life-threatening, acute illnesses.

“A lot of emergency medical requests occurring on trains are linked to vulnerable groups, including the elderly, children, pregnant women and those with chronic diseases who breathe in smoke,” he said.

The researchers interviewed 94 passengers on the four trains and found that 77 of them would applaud a complete ban on smoking on slow trains.

People made 3.37 billion railway trips in China during 2018.

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