Director-General's Office

WHO China Corporate Pledge Event on Smoke-Free Workplaces

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Director-General of the World Health Organization

Beijing, China
16 July 2018

Good evening. Thank you so much.

This is my second trip to China after taking office as WHO Director-General. I’m delighted to be here at this very special and important event.

As we all know, the tobacco epidemic takes a huge toll on China.

China has one-third of the world’s smokers, 1 million deaths a year from tobacco-related disease, 100,000 deaths a year from exposure to second-hand smoke, and more than 700 million people regularly exposed to second-hand smoke, many of them in the workplace.

Business leaders and CEOs, many of whom are here today, are at the forefront of progress and innovation. As drivers of change in your industries, you will spur a movement towards a future with healthier, safer working environments.

I salute the corporate leaders both in China and around the world who have already taken the first steps towards ensuring that their most precious asset – their staff – are fully protected from second-hand smoke.

A smoke-free workplace is not only good for health, it’s good for business. When a workplace becomes smoke-free, everybody wins. The employer wins, the employees win, the clients and visitors win. It’s a triple-win for health and business!

Tobacco control is not easy. We’re up against a powerful industry that has far more resources than most countries. But we are on the right side of history. And we have the tools, the knowledge, the mandate, the commitment and the determination to fulfil our vision of a tobacco-free world.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your support and leadership. Today we’re privileged to have almost 60 companies represented, who employ more than 410 000 people. That’s nearly half a million people who will be protected from exposure to second-hand smoke because of the commitment being made here this evening.

I want to thank all of you for taking a stand for health. The example you are setting will inspire other companies to join us in this smoke-free revolution.

I am confident that the seeds we are planting today here will bear great fruit down the road. I look forward to the day when China and many other countries in the region have national smoke-free laws that protect their citizens from exposure to second-hand smoke, not just in workplaces but in ALL public places.

Together, we can make this happen. Thank you and Xie Xie!