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Development of China’s Public Health as an Essential Element of Human Rights

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Change of crop bears fruit

For local farmers in Qujing, money does grow on trees since the local government enticed the Joyvio Group to invest in plantations to grow a superfood. Wang Hao, Yang Feiyue and Li Yingqing report in Qujing, Yunnan.

http://africa.chinadaily.com.cn/life/2017-09/26/content_32492426.htm

Yingqing Xu Huayuan is using secateurs to trim blueberry trees in a vast plantation in Yunnan province.

“You can try one of the blueberries that have turned dark blue on the trees. They are sweet,” says the 32-year-old.

Xu is a contract worker on a blueberry plantation in the Qilin district of Qujing city, which is owned by Joyvio Group, the strategic investment arm for food and agribusiness of Legend Holdings.

He has been working at the plantation, which covers 73 hectares, for a year, caring for its 240,000 blueberry trees along with seven others.

His work includes keeping a record of the development of each blueberry tree in the area of the farm he is responsible for, monitoring the changes in temperature and water content on a daily basis throughout the year.

“My life is much easier and more stable now than it used to be,” says Xu, who used to grow tobacco on his 0.7 hectare of land. “I had to dig into my own pockets to buy pesticide and fertilizer, do all the heavy lifting during the harvest, and find buyers,” he says.

His family could make up to 30,000 yuan ($4,500) if there was a good harvest, but would lose it all when the weather wreaked havoc.

The city produces among the best tobacco nationwide, and its output accounts for approximately 9 percent of the total nationwide.

“Tobacco is still a pillar industry. But we are trying to make other sectors, like organic farming, vacation and sport tourism, take up a larger proportion, so that the industrial mix would be healthier, too. Blueberries are our new hope,” says Dong Baotong, the mayor of Qujing.

Xiamen’s new public orders to take effect Oct. 1st, 2017

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Chinese customs seize 600 tonnes e-cigarette oil

Customs in southern China recently seized 600 tonnes of smuggled electronic cigarette oil, with a total value of 300 million yuan (about 44 million U.S. dollars).

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-08/21/c_136543768.htm

Over 320 police raided four groups who were suspected of smuggling the oil from the United States, according to Zhou Bin, head of Gongbei Customs Office, which administers Zhuhai and Zhongshan cities in Guangdong Province.

The four companies were based in Shenzhen and Xiamen and supplied the majority of the e-cigarette oil in the Chinese market, according to Zhou.

In recent years, sales of electronic cigarettes have grown by more than 300 percent annually, but supervision of the industry is still weak, Zhou said.

Most of the oil sold in China is imported, he said.

Twenty people have been placed under criminal detention following the raid, and further investigation is underway.

WHO China launches smoke-free campaign targeting youth

The World Health Organization (WHO) started a “smoke-free generation” media campaign in Beijing Thursday targeting young Chinese.

http://www.china.org.cn/china/2017-06/03/content_40957899.htm

China is in the grip of a national tobacco epidemic, and children are most susceptible with cigarettes portrayed as fashionable and alluring in popular culture, said Bernhard Schwartlander, WHO Representative in China at the launch event.

According to WHO, over half of Chinese adult men smoke, two thirds of whom started as young adults. By 2014, 72.9 percent Chinese students had been exposed to secondhand smoke.

“There is nothing cool about smoking, but there is something empowering about choosing to live a healthy, smoke-free life,” said Schwartlander.

Since China ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2005, the country has made a number of tobacco control efforts, including banning tobacco advertisements, increasing tobacco taxes and putting forward regional smoking bans.

As of 2016, 18 cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, had implemented regional smoking bans.

China has set a target to reduce the smoking rate among people aged 15 and older to 20 percent by 2030 from the current 27.7 percent, according to the “Healthy China 2030″ blueprint issued by the central authorities last October.

WHO launches smoke-free celebrity campaign targeting youth

World No Tobacco Day, which took place on May 31 this year, was themed “Tobacco – a threat to development.”

http://www.ecns.cn/2017/06-02/259994.shtml

The Chinese arm of the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a “smoke-free next generation” media campaign on June 1, inviting Chinese celebrities to encourage youngsters not to smoke. Four young Chinese celebrities, actor Wang Jia, actress Guan Xiaotong, Yiyang Qianxi of the music group TFBoys, and visual artist Chen Man, were invited to join the campaign.

“Tobacco is a threat to any person. It brings suffering, disease, death, and impoverishes families. I had never thought about smoking before, and after the event I am more determined not to smoke,” Yiyang Qianxi, member of the TFBoys, said.

“Smoking is harmful not only for the smokers, but also for nonsmokers through passive smoking,” Guan Xiaotong added.

Tobacco control is a global health issue, and reminding young people of the danger of smoking plays an important role in curbing the tobacco epidemic.

According to WHO, up to 10 billion cigarettes per day are smoked, and more than seven million deaths are linked to tobacco use every year. WHO predicts that the number of deaths caused by tobacco might grow to more than eight million a year by 2030, intensive action is not taken.

In fact, more than half of adult men are smokers in China, two-thirds of whom started smoking as young adults.

“There is absolute nothing cool or fashionable about developing lung cancer, oral cancer and yellow teeth. In other words, there’s nothing cool about smoking, But, there is something empowering about choosing to live a healthy, smoke-free life,” said Dr. Bernhard Schwartländer, the WHO representative in China.

Tobacco endangers the lives of millions of people around the world. It threatens our future and the development of economies and the environment. Tobacco harms our health and destroys our efforts to build a healthier, more prosperous and peaceful world.

Please say no to tobacco.

Study: China Struggles to Kick World-Leading Cigarette Habit

Most smokers in China, the world’s largest tobacco consumer, have no intention of kicking the habit and remain unaware of some of its most damaging health effects, Chinese health officials and outside researchers said Wednesday.

http://www.voanews.com/a/china-smoking/3879050.html

An estimated 316 million people smoke in China, almost a quarter of the population, and concerns are growing about the long-term effects on public health and the economy.

The vast majority of smokers are men, of whom 59 percent told surveyors that they have no plans to quit, according to a decade-long study by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Canadian researchers with the International Tobacco Control project.

Such numbers have prompted efforts to restrict the formerly ubiquitous practice. Major cities including Beijing and Shanghai having recently moved to ban public smoking, with Shanghai’s prohibition going into effect in March. In 2015, the central government approved a modest nationwide cigarette tax increase.

But Chinese and international health officials argue that more is needed, including a nationwide public smoking ban, higher cigarette taxes and more aggressive health warnings. Such actions are “critically important,” Yuan Jiang, director of tobacco control for the Chinese Center for Disease Control, said in a statement released with Wednesday’s study.

A public smoking ban appeared imminent last year. The government health ministry said in December that it would happen by the end of 2016, but that has yet to materialize.

“They have to figure out what’s important as a health policy,” said Geoffrey Fong of Canada’s University of Waterloo, one of the authors of Wednesday’s study. “Every third man that you pass on the street in China will die of cigarettes. …When you have cheap cigarettes, people will smoke them.”

In line with global trends, smoking rates among Chinese have fallen slowly over the past 25 years, by about 1 percent annually among men and 2.6 percent among women, according to a separate study published in April in the medical journal The Lancet.

Yet because of China’s population growth — 1.37 billion people at last count — the actual number of smokers has continued to increase. Rising prosperity means cigarettes have become more affordable, while low taxes keep the cost of some brands at less than $1 a pack.

Sixty percent of Chinese smokers were unaware that cigarettes can lead to strokes and almost 40 percent weren’t aware that smoking causes heart disease, according to the study, which was released on World No Tobacco Day, when the World Health Organization and others highlight health risks associated with tobacco use.

Judith Mackay, an anti-tobacco advocate based in Hong Kong, said China has made strides with the public smoking bans in some cities and a similar ban covering schools and universities, but that’s not enough.

“This is the first time there has been a report looking at the overall picture of where China stands,” said Mackay, senior adviser at Vital Strategies, a global health organization. “The reality is, it’s falling behind.”

Mackay blamed behind the scenes lobbying by China’s state-owned tobacco monopoly for impeding efforts to toughen tobacco policies. The State Tobacco Monopoly Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Government agencies and research institutes in China, Canada and the United States funded the study.

What’s keeping Indonesia, China addicted to smoking?

A World Trade Organisation ruling backing Australia’s hard line on cigarette packaging highlights a gulf between Asia and much of the rest of the world

http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/society/article/2094162/whats-keeping-indonesia-china-addicted-smoking

It was during a trip to Egypt in 1995 when Edison Siahaan first felt that something wasn’t quite right with his throat. Four decades had gone by since he started smoking at the age of 15. His voice had been raspy for years. Maybe this was just the dry air tickling the back of his throat.

But it wasn’t dry air and it wasn’t a tickle. It was cancer. Doctors excised a portion of his trachea leaving a hole the size of a nickel at the base of the throat. He lost his bank job because for a year following the surgery he couldn’t speak. Even now, what passes for speech makes him sound like the emperor from Star Wars only with more hissing. Now 79, Siahaan, a kindly old gent with a full head of hair, is tough to look at. “I see kids smoking all the time here,” he says, gesturing back and forth along the length of the street from his front room. “It makes me sick to think they are going to ruin their life. I point at this hole in my throat and say to them: do you want to look like this?”

Asian men already account for the lion’s share of the world’s tobacco related illnesses, yet a World Trade Organisation ruling this week that upheld tough anti-smoking rules introduced in Australia in 2012, showed that if anything, the gap in attitudes between Asia and the rest of the world may be widening.

“Tobacco in China is absolutely devastating,” says Dr Angela Pratt who helps handle external relations at the World Health Organisation’s office for the Western Pacific in Manila.

In China, roughly 300 million people smoke, according to the WHO. Most of these are men. More than half of Chinese adults are smokers and two-thirds of young Chinese men start smoking. While smoking rates are steady, the absolute number of smokers is rising in line with population growth. Chinese smokers account for 44 per cent of all the cigarettes puffed in the world. At current rates 200 million Chinese will die this century from tobacco-related illnesses, Pratt says. “That’s a huge burden. The people afflicted are often the sole income earners,” she says.

This week, the WTO ruled that Australia’s plain packaging rules, which ban branding and distinctive colouring from packs of cigarettes, were a legitimate public health measure. The ruling knocked back a complaint from Indonesia, Cuba, Honduras and the Dominican Republic, who said the rule amounted to an illegal trade barrier. As the former chief of staff to the Australian health minister who introduced the plain packaging measures, Nicola Roxon, Pratt helped develop the policy, bulletproofing it from court challenges from tobacco companies and governments.

“We were proud to be taking on plain packaging,” Pratt recalls. “But we wanted to be sure to be able to defend it.”

Together with graphic warnings and taxes that will push cigarettes up to A$40 (HK$230) per pack by 2020, the measure is credited with accelerating the fall in Australia’s smoking rate. The most recent figures show about 13 per cent of Australian adults smoke and less than five per cent of school children. A dozen countries, from Canada to Chile and Britain to Uruguay are either introducing similar rules or seriously considering them.

At the other extreme is Indonesia. The most recent figures, which date back to 2013, show 240,000 Indonesians die every year from tobacco related illnesses. Two-thirds of Indonesian men and boys, over the age of 15, smoke, according to the Ministry of Health.

Most troubling are the numbers of new young smokers throughout the archipelago, says Dr Widyastuti Soerojo, chair of the tobacco control unit at the Indonesian Public Health Association. She says some 16 million Indonesian youngsters between the ages of 10 and 19 experiment with smoking every year – a rate of about 44,000 every day.

Indonesia is among the few countries that are not signatories to the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which among other things aims to curb the appeal of smoking for children.

Indonesia television and billboards feature handsome intrepid men jumping out of planes or into business meetings. Roadside kiosks individually sell clove cigarettes, known as kretek, for as little as 10 US cents each.

Governments in Jakarta and local governments in vote-rich provinces, such as Central Java and East Java, fend off calls for more curbs on smoking saying they provide badly needed jobs to rural families.

But mechanisation and growing taste for machine-made cancer sticks rather than hand-rolled types, belie that argument. Tobacco accounts for about half of one per cent of all jobs in Indonesia, according to the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance. Campaigners are quick to point out the country’s richest families have tobacco to thank.

The Hartonos, Indonesia’s richest family and worth US$17 billion, own kretek maker Djarum.

Indonesian cigarette sales totaled US$16 billion in 2015. Sampoerna, which is more than 90 per cent owned by Philip Morris, is Indonesia’s most valuable company.

“The government treats tobacco like it’s a normal industry but really this is neocolonialism by tobacco companies,” Dr Soerojo says.

In China, the culprit for health advocates is the China National Tobacco Corporation, which controls more than 98 per cent of the local market. Implementation of the UN tobacco convention falls to the Ministry of Industry, which is also home to the body that owns China Tobacco. “A parallel would be, back when I was with the health ministry, meetings were chaired by a representative of Philip Morris,” Pratt said. “There’s plenty of room for conflict of interest.”

Still, there’s progress. Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, with a combined population of more than 60 million, have banned smoking in public areas. China hiked taxes on cigarettes in 2015. The move resulted in a 20 per cent jump in the retail prices of the cheapest brands. Owing to its massive market, that move alone resulted in a more than 2 per cent drop in world tobacco consumption in 2016.

In Indonesia, smoking is banned in most public spaces but enforcement peters out the further one travels from the centre of Jakarta. Indonesia introduced graphic warnings on packaging in 2012 and hiked excise taxes on cigarettes by 15 per cent in 2016. Even so, additional hikes for this year were scotched. Glimmers of light are on the horizon, says WHO’s Pratt, but plain packaging is still “a long way off”.

For Siahaan, his government’s halting go-slow approach is proof that cigarettes are insidious, and for him, more ruinous than narcotics. “At least with drugs you can get help,” he gasps. “For cigarettes, you see them everywhere.”

Smoking costs China $57 billion in 2014: WHO calls for national ban

The economic dividends from China’s tobacco industry are a false economy, which is at odds with government’s vision for China’s future, the World Health Organization (WHO) claimed on Friday.

http://www.ecns.cn/2017/04-16/253586.shtml

“The total economic cost of tobacco use in China in 2014 amounted to a staggering 350 billion yuan ($57 billion), a tenfold increase since 2000,” Bernhard Schwartlander, the WHO representative in China, told a press conference in Beijing.

The increase is a result of more people diagnosed with tobacco-related illness and increasing healthcare expenditure, according to a report jointly released by the WHO and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) at the conference.

“The direct cost of treating tobacco-related diseases in China was about 53 billion yuan and the indirect cost was expected to be 297 billion yuan,” in which the productivity loss from premature deaths was a major concern, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the report said that tobacco represents an economy of the past as China’s tobacco companies do not fit the vision of an innovative, value-added future economy.

“Projected increases in these costs will lead to negative spillovers effects across many sectors, placing increasing challenges to Chinese economy and businesses, in addition to the social welfare and health system,” it said.

Wu Yiqun, deputy director of the Beijing-based Research Center for Health Development, a think tank, told the Global Times earlier that China has huge public support for a nationwide smoking ban, but the timetable to adopt a law has been on the back burner.

“The proposed law has been mainly stymied by tobacco industry officials due to the huge economic interests involved,” Wu said.

The sector handed over 1.1 trillion yuan ($170 billion) to the State in 2015, up 20.2 percent from the previous year, the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration said in 2016.

The revenue from the tobacco industry derives from corporations whose business model is to create dependence on a lethal substance.

China in 2016 adopted the “Healthy China 2030″ blueprint, which says China aims to reduce smoking rates among adults from 28 percent to 20 percent by 2030.

More than 1 million people die of tobacco-related diseases every year in China, and the number is expected to reach 3 million by 2050 if no action to reduce smoking rates is taken. About 44 percent of the world’s cigarettes were consumed in China in 2014, nearly 26 percent higher than that in India, the report said.

China’s Ministry of Finance announced in May 2015 to raise cigarette taxation from the previous 5 percent to 11 percent, which “led to a reduction in cigarette sales for the first time in 20 years,” according to the report.

However, “cigarettes are increasingly affordable as the increase in cigarette prices has been much lower than the average increase in salaries.”

Smoking Will Kill 200 Million In China This Century, Report Says

The country is the world’s largest producer and consumer of tobacco.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/smoking-will-kill-200-million-in-china-this-century-report-says_us_58f26221e4b0da2ff8612b55

Habitual smoking in China is set to kill more than 200 million people this century, a new report from the World Health Organization and United Nations Development Program said.

The deaths will come from primarily poor areas of the country, “unless critical steps are taken to reduce China’s dependency on tobacco,” the report, released Friday, said.

Those steps could be difficult in a country that is also the world’s largest producer and consumer of tobacco, according to WHO. Forty-four percent of the world’s cigarettes are smoked in China, and the profits show. In 2015, the smoking industry in China recorded $160 billion in revenue, according to Agence France-Presse.

Dr. Bernhard Schwartländer, China’s WHO representative, said there needs to be more smoke-free policies across the country.

“If nothing is done to reduce these numbers and introduce more progressive policies, the consequences could be devastating not just for the health of people across the country, but also for China’s economy as a whole,” Schwartländer said.

Cigarettes have become increasingly more affordable, according to the report. A 50 percent tax increase on cigarettes could see 47 million fewer male smokers and 20 million fewer premature deaths over 50 years.

“Raising tobacco taxes is one of the most cost-effective measures to reduce tobacco consumption, while also generating substantial revenue for health and other essential programs – investments that ultimately benefit the entire population,” said Bert Hofman, World Bank Country Director for China, Mongolia and Korea, in the WHO press release.