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October 1st, 2011:

For Chinese Students, Smoking Isn’t All Bad

The government tobacco maker sponsors schools, earning goodwill

Chinese kids smoking on the outskirts of Shaoyang in Hunan province

In dozens of rural villages in China’s western provinces, one of the first things primary school kids learn is what helps make their education possible: tobacco. The schools are sponsored by local units of China’s state-owned cigarette monopoly, China National Tobacco. “On the gates of these schools you’ll see slogans that say ‘Genius comes from hard work—tobacco helps you become talented,’” says Xu Guihua, secretary general of the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control, a privately funded lobbying group. “They are pinning their hopes on young people taking up smoking.”

Anti-tobacco groups say efforts in China to reduce sales, including a ban on smoking in public places introduced in May, have been hampered by light penalties, a lack of education about the dangers of smoking, and the fact that the regulator, the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, also runs the world’s biggest cigarette maker.

While Chinese law bans tobacco advertising on radio, television, and in newspapers, they “do not have clear restrictions on sales and sponsorship activities,” according to a report published in January by Yang Gonghuan, a former deputy director of China’s Center for Disease Control & Prevention, and Tsinghua University professor Hu Angang. Regional units of the monopoly funded construction of more than 100 primary schools throughout China, such as the Sichuan Tobacco Hope Primary School, the official Xinhua News Agency reported in May. Some schools are named after local tobacco companies such as Hongta or top-selling cigarette brands like Zhongnanhai, named after the compound next to the Forbidden City where China’s top leaders live and work. The state tobacco company in September 2010 announced it was sponsoring an additional 42 primary school libraries in Xinjiang and 40 in Tibet, and in November made a ¥10 million donation to a women’s development fund for a “Healthy Mothers’ Express” campaign.

China National Tobacco lists charitable activities on its website. In a survey of more than 2,000 adults conducted in 2009 by the Association on Tobacco Control, 7 percent had a good impression of the tobacco industry due to its charity work, while 18 percent said they would pick a cigarette brand because of its good works. State Tobacco’s press office didn’t respond to interview requests or faxed questions about sponsorship.

China has more than 320 million smokers, a third of the world’s total, and 53 percent of men there smoke. About 1 million Chinese die from tobacco-related illnesses every year. The tobacco industry grew at an average annual rate of 19 percent from 2006 to 2010, according to State Tobacco. Last year, earnings rose 17 percent, to ¥605 billion ($95 billion), including ¥499 billion paid in taxes.

China created the tobacco monopoly in the 1980s, when the industry supplied more than 10 percent of government revenue. Today, tobacco contributes 6.7 percent, according to Yang and Hu’s report. “Especially in tobacco-growing provinces like Yunnan and Guizhou, the tobacco industry is a very important part of local government income,” says Wang Shiyong, the World Bank’s senior health specialist in Beijing. “There is a lot of internal government lobbying to make sure the health consequences of smoking are not addressed.”

A government survey in 2010 found that two in five male doctors light up every day in China. Pfizer (PFE), whose Champix is the main prescription anti-smoking drug sold in China, funded a three-year program in 2008 to set up 60 smoke-free hospitals in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Smoking among the hospitals’ leadership fell to 8.4 percent, from 19.1 percent, while overall rates for doctors fell to 6.8 percent from 10.7 percent, says Pfizer spokeswoman Neena Moorjani.

Still, the education drives have a long way to go. Only one in four adults in China believe exposure to tobacco smoke causes heart diseases and lung cancer, and the percentage among smokers is even lower—22 percent—according to the 2010 Global Adult Tobacco Survey for China.

“We’ve been trying to get the Ministry of Education to stop the tobacco companies from sponsoring these schools,” says Xu, a former deputy director at the Chinese Center for Disease Control & Prevention. “But the ministry wants us to show them proof that this is causing harm.”

The bottom line: China’s tobacco monopoly funds schools. About 18 percent of Chinese say they’d pick a cigarette brand because of its charitable works.

China announces new limits on smoking in film and television

China has ordered films and television producers to limit the amount of
smoking depicted on-screen, the latest effort to curb rampant tobacco use in
the country with the largest number of smokers in the world.
The order from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television
ordered producers to minimise plot lines and scenes involving tobacco and
show smoking only when necessary for artistic purposes or character
Under the guidelines, minors under age 18 cannot be shown smoking or buying
cigarettes, and characters may not smoke in public buildings or other places
where smoking is banned.
Tobacco use is linked to the deaths of at least 1 million people every year
in China, where 300 million people, or nearly 30 per cent of adults, smoke.
While numbers of smokers have remained flat for the past decade, mortality
rates among them are rising fast. If trends continue, by 2030 an estimated
3.5 million Chinese will die from smoking each year, according to a report
issued last month by a group of prominent Chinese public health experts and

Smoking in the movies


Studies have linked exposure to movie smoking and smoking initiation among

U.S. adolescents, but there has been only one published study of adolescents

outside the U.S.


Cross sectional survey of 5586 schoolchildren aged 10-17 with a mean of 12.8

(SD=1.2) years from randomly selected secondary schools in

Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, in October/November 2005. In August 2006, using

previously validated methods, exposure to movie smoking was estimated from

398 internationally distributed films (98% produced and distributed by U.S.

studios) released in Germany, and examined its relation with ever and

current (30 day) smoking.


Smoking in internationally distributed movies is associated with ever and

current smoking among German adolescents. This suggests the need for

prospective studies of this association in countries other than the U.S. and

research into the potential impact of countrywide policies that would limit

exposure of young adolescents to movie smoking.

Exposure to movie smoking: The impact of Hollywood movies versus European movies

Smokefree Movies Europe
The project Smoking in Movies is co-funded by the European Commission.
Participating Countries:
. Participating countries:
. Germany
. Iceland
. Italy
. The Netherlands
. Poland
. United Kingdom
In many cases movies produced in one country are not only distributed in the
origin country, but distributed internationally and presented to a broad
audience in many countries. Distribution channels internationally include
DVD’s, cinema and TV delivery. Sometimes movies are delivered worldwide
through the internet. To really address this problem and to contribute to
solve it, activities on an European level are necessary.

The present project “Smoking in movies: Impact on European youth and policy
options” tries to approach the issue of smoking in movies from an European
perspective. It contains three main project parts:

1.The assessment of smoking in movies released in European countries
2.The study of the impact of exposure to smoking in movies on European
3.The formulation of European policy options

Tobacco control policies ‘bring healthcare savings’ : Cancer Research UK

European Commission provides € 5.2 million to help lower income countries in tobacco control

European Commission provides € 5.2 million to help lower income countries in
tobacco control
The European Commission has decided to provide a € 5.2 million contribution to the
World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to help
middle and low income countries tackle tobacco control effectively.
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)1, an evidence-based
international treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organisation, is the
basis for governments worldwide to implement effective tobacco control policies and to
address the risk factors of tobacco consumption and exposure.
The main focus of EU support will be to assist with needs assessment in the area of
tobacco control in order to help these countries to fully implement the FCTC and to better
integrate tobacco control policies into their national health programmes and strategies.
This contribution complements the various global efforts to reduce the burden of noncommunicable
diseases, which are on the rise worldwide. It is estimated that tobacco use
is one of the leading global causes of preventable death, killing more than five million
people worldwide each year2.
The UN High Level Meeting on non-communicable diseases on 19 and 20 September
2011, in its political declaration3 committed to “accelerate implementation by States
parties of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,…”
This funding will help the FCTC secretariat to scale up work already undertaken on joint
needs assessment, capacity building and enhancing international cooperation.
The funding comes from the EU’s “Investing in People” programme which pursues a
broad approach to development and poverty reduction in partner countries as part of its
efforts to reach the UN’s Millennium Development goals. This extra-budgetary
contribution to the FCTC Secretariat, which will run over three years, is additional to the
payments of the EU and the individual EU Member States in support of WHO in general
and the FCTC in particular.
The details of this action under the “Investing in People” programme can be seen under:

UCLA study claims tobacco firms aware of dangers of cigarette smoke, but hid evidence

The research, which covered 25 years, traced the deaths of 120 to 138 people for every 1,000 regular smokers to the radioactivity. The finding belies common belief that only the chemicals in the cigarette cause lung cancer.

A study by UCLA researchers released on Wednesday claims that tobacco companies had known for decades that cigarette smoke was bad for the health, but continues to hide that information from the public.

The claim is based on a UCLA analysis of previously unexamined industry documents. Although the industry initiated investigations into the possible effects of polonium-210 or the radioactive particles from cigarette smoke back into the 1960s, there was no single document that showed the results of the probe which found that sufficient levels of polonium-210 can cause cancer.

The research, which covered 25 years, traced the deaths of 120 to 138 people for every 1,000 regular smokers to the radioactivity. The finding belies common belief that only the chemicals in the cigarette cause lung cancer, said Hrayr Karageuzian, lead author of the study.

Karageuzian said that the tobacco firms rejected methods that would help remove polonium-210 from tobacco because of fears that smokers may lost the instant nicotine rush that causes their addiction to the vice.

David Sutton, spokesman of Philip Morris USA, said the firm does not add polonium-210 to its products but insisted it is a naturally occurring element in the air that had been widely tackled by the public health community for years.

Greg Connolly, director of Harvard University’s Center for Global Tobacco Control, agreed that polonium-210 has long been identified. He said the research shows there is a need for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to further regulate the tobacco industry.

The study, published in the Nicotine & Tobacco Research journal, pushed the FDA to make removal of the radioactive particles from tobacco product its top priority. The call is timely since the FDA started this week to mandate tobacco firms to disclose detailed information about new products and changes to existing ones.

The disclosure is part of the 2009 law that granted the FDA regulatory power over tobacco products. The FDA issued on Wednesday the draft guidance that stipulates every change made by tobacco firms must be disclosed which would be an opportunity for the regulator to stop the companies from making their products even more harmful, addictive or appealing to smokers.

The FDA would require results of research about the health risks of the products, information about components, ingredients, addictives and properties of the products and full description of manufacturing and processing methods. New or changed products, before they could be put out in the market, must be substantially equivalent to the tobacco companies’ existing products on or before Feb. 15, 2007.

Read more:

Market Testing of New Health Warnings and Information Messages for Tobacco Product Packaging: Premium Cigars, Cigarillos / Little cigars and Roll your own

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