WHO awards China official for battling smoking

July 17, 2012 by GILLIAN WONG
A Chinese man smokes in a outdoor area designated for smoking in Beijing Tuesday, July 17, 2012. The World Health Organization is giving China's health minister an award for battling smoking in the country whose people and government remain prodigiously addicted to tobacco. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

(AP) — The World Health Organization is giving China's health minister an award for battling smoking in a country whose people and government remain prodigiously addicted to tobacco.

China has stepped up efforts to curb tobacco use in recent years. The Health Ministry released the country's first official report on the harms of smoking in May, banned smoking in its office building and hospitals, and is lobbying for airports and other indoor public facilities to do the same.

WHO said Chen Zhu will be presented a certificate of recognition at a ceremony on Wednesday attended by WHO chief Margaret Chan.

Tobacco control is a difficult task in a nation where huge revenues from the state-owned tobacco monopoly hinder anti-smoking measures. Nearly 30 percent of adults in China smoke — about 300 million people, roughly equal to the entire U.S. population — a percentage that has not changed significantly.

The tobacco monopoly's influence is pervasive, with cigarette companies sponsoring schools, sports events and fostering close ties with the academic community.

In December, a tobacco scientist who specializes in adding traditional Chinese herbs to cigarettes in an attempt to reduce their harmful effects was appointed to the prestigious Chinese Academy of Engineering in a move that was criticized by other academics, several of whom sent letters to the academy in protest.

Despite the many challenges that remain in stamping out tobacco use, anti-smoking activists welcomed the WHO award.

"Among the government departments, the Health Ministry is the one that has made the biggest efforts in promoting tobacco control," said Xu Guihua, vice president of the government-affiliated Chinese Association on Tobacco Control. "On many occasions, Minister Chen Zhu has told the public that tobacco is harmful and asked people to give up smoking. He also called on the government to step up tobacco control legislation."

Xu said China still needs to issue a national plan, raise prices of cigarettes and better educate the public on the health risks of smoking.

She criticized the apparent conflict of interest in the dual role that China's State Tobacco Monopoly Administration plays as both tobacco policymaker and overseer of the China National Corp. — the world's largest cigarette maker.

Health officials have warned that smoking-related deaths could hit 3 million per year by 2030 without greater efforts.

Last year's certificate for anti-smoking efforts was awarded to Australian Attorney General Nicola Roxon, who as health minister led a campaign to make Australia the first country in the world to require cigarettes to be sold in plain packages with large, graphic warnings.

Explore further: Colombia bans sales of loose cigarettes, tobacco adverts

shares

Related Stories

Colombia bans sales of loose cigarettes, tobacco adverts

July 21, 2011
A ban on sales of loose cigarettes and tobacco advertising went into effect Thursday in Colombia, the health ministry said.

WHO urges China to bolster tobacco controls

March 20, 2012
(AP) -- The head of the World Health Organization urged China on Tuesday to bolster controls on tobacco in a country where half of adult males smoke.

Recommended for you

Incorporating 12-step program elements improves youth substance-use disorder treatment

July 26, 2017
A treatment program for adolescents with substance-use disorder that incorporates the practices and philosophy of 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) produced even better results than the current state-of-the ...

Concern with potential rise in super-potent cannabis concentrates

July 21, 2017
University of Queensland researchers are concerned the recent legalisation of medicinal cannabis in Australia may give rise to super-potent cannabis concentrates with associated harmful effects.

Findings link aldosterone with alcohol use disorder

July 18, 2017
A new study led by scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, demonstrates that aldosterone, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands, may contribute ...

Depression among young teens linked to cannabis use at 18

July 17, 2017
A study looking at the cumulative effects of depression in youth, found that young people with chronic or severe forms of depression were at elevated risk for developing a problem with cannabis in later adolescence.

Why does prenatal alcohol exposure increase the likelihood of addiction?

July 7, 2017
One of the many negative consequences when fetuses are exposed to alcohol in the womb is an increased risk for drug addiction later in life. Neuroscientists in the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions are ...

Researchers say U.S. policies on drugs and addiction could use a dose of neuroscience

June 23, 2017
Tens of thousands of Americans die from drug overdoses every year – around 50,000 in 2015 – and the number has been steadily climbing for at least the last decade and a half, according to the National Institute on Drug ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.