Smoke in China

In China, not only the smoke from cars and factories seem to be a problem in relation to the Olympic Games. China has 350 million smokers, a third of the world's total, and a million Chinese a year die from tobacco. Although smoking in public places has been banned in Beijing before the Olympics, it is no wild guess that smoking will continue to be an issue.

The initiative from Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates is therefore very welcome, launching a $500 million dollar call on governments to implement proven interventions to reduce tobacco use, save lives. They emphasize the use of the World Health Organization’s program MPOWER:

Monitor tobacco use and the policies to prevent it
Protect people from tobacco smoke
Offer people help to quit tobacco use
Warn about the dangers of tobacco
Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
Raise taxes on tobacco

They will support complementary efforts to reduce high rates of tobacco use in countries such as China and India, as well as to help prevent the tobacco epidemic from taking root in Africa.

Of course not everybody is happy with this development. Russian Pravda calls Bloomberg and Gates naïve. According to the Chinese Embassy in the US, China will ban all forms of tobacco promotion by January 2011. Since China is both the largest tobacco producer and consumer, this is an important and not uncontroversial step.

In Sweden around 1,3 million people in Sweden smoke, out of a 9 million population. About 6 500 individuals die every year because of smoking. That is more lives than taken by traffic accidents, hiv/aids, drugs and suicides together, according to Cancerfonden.

A really interesting website is The Tobacco Documents Online, where you can find the documents that the tobacco industry uses in trials in the USA. The website is a search engine, making search through various databases possible.

If you want to get a complementary view of China, watch the wonderful movie CJ7.

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