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April 19th, 2015:

Common strategies employed by the tobacco industry in response to tobacco tax increases

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Tobacco firms in China target poverty relief, student subsidies

The Chinese Association on Tobacco Control (CATC), which monitored tobacco promotion for an 100-day period between Nov. 2 last year and Feb. 10 this year, was not optimistic about tobacco control in its report which it unveiled on April 16, stating that promotion of tobacco is on the rise, including among students, the Beijing Morning Post reports.

Beijing plans to implement a complete ban on indoor smoking in public places from June 1.

The CATC conducted the inspection online, searching for activities and events sponsored by tobacco firms. They found 62 events promoting tobacco, of which 27% were sales-point promotion activities, 13% were internet promotions, 15% were large-scale promotional events and 45% were brand tasting activities. The CATC also found 89 instances of tobacco firms sponsoring activities or programs, 58% of which were poverty relief initiatives, while student subsidies programs made up 34% and social events made up 8%.

This was the third inspection carried out by the CATC since 2013. Compared with the 2014 inspection, this year’s report suggests that sales-point tobacco promotion rose 6%, brand tasting events rose 300%, internet promotion rose 33%, and large-scale promotional events are up 13%.

For sponsorship activities, poverty relief initiatives in 2015 rose 23% from 2014, while student subsidy programs surged 155%, indicating that the tobacco industry are using these programs to promote tobacco.

It’s terrible for tobacco firms to be targeting students by providing them with subsidies, said Xu Guihua, president of the CATC.

Currently, there are about 5.4 million sales points for tobacco in China, or about one for every 250 people.

The CATC called for the legislative body to include a complete ban on ads for tobacco in the advertisement act, so as to make the tobacco control move effective.

In 2006, the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) took effect in China, but since then China’s tobacco control has been ineffective, failing to hit home due to the backlash from the tobacco industry.

The dangers of tobacco in China are widely known, as the nation is the world’s largest tobacco producer and consumer. More than 300 million people have smoked, and 740 million non-smokers are endangered by second-hand smoking. Each year, about 1.4 million people die of smoking-related diseases.