Introduction: The Chinese government's implementation of the MPOWER policies and compliance with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control requirements has been slow. We used the 'foot-in-the-door' approach to promote tobacco control advocacy through capacity building of healthcare leaders, and establishment of smoking cessation clinics in Guangzhou and Beijing (two of the largest cities in China).
Methods: This collaborative pilot project involved the University of Hong Kong and three major hospitals in Guangzhou and Beijing. A steering committee conducted the smoking cessation training workshops starting from April 2006, and set up three smoking cessation model clinics during August 2006 to October 2008. We followed up the trained health care professionals (HCPs) in 2014 and 2015 to assess their impacts on tobacco control beyond smoking cessation.
Results: We emphasized the importance of the general tobacco control atmosphere during smoking cessation training of 139 HCPs to motivate them to engage in tobacco control advocacy. In addition to enhancing their knowledge and skills in cessation, the HCPs were then involved in the establishment of three in-hospital smoking cessation clinics and served as smoking cessation counselors since June 2008. Moreover, they ventured outside the clinics and the community to publicize smoking cessation. Their effort has contributed to smoke-free legislation, better surveillance on smoking and media advocacy on tobacco control in China.
Conclusions: The training and establishment of smoking cessation clinics could serve as a means to motivate and empower HCPs who could contribute to broaden tobacco control policy in China.
Keywords: health promoting hospitals; public health; tobacco.