Low tar myth believed

By Zhang Yiwei Source:Global Times Published: 2013-9-13 1:03:01

A majority of Chinese people still believe the tobacco industry-peddled myth that low-tar cigarettes lessen the danger to smokers' health, experts said Thursday on a meeting interpreting the health education on tobacco control document released by the central health authorities.

Xu Guihua, deputy director of the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control, cited a survey that some 60 percent of doctors and nearly 80 percent of people believe that low-tar cigarettes do less harm to people's health, during the meeting held at Beijing Chaoyang Hospital by the Beijing Institute of Respiratory Medicine, the World Health Organization's collaborating center for tobacco control.

"The slogan of 'low tar, less harm' is totally tobacco makers' marketing strategy and it has caused a huge impact on people's perception," Xu said.

Cigarettes branded with low tar do not reduce harm and will induce more smoking, claimed the China Report on the Health hazards of Smoking Executive Summary released in 2012.

The document by the National Health and Family Planning Commission on August 14 is based on key information extracted from the report on the harm caused by smoking and suggestions to smokers.

China has more than 300 million smokers and 740 million non-smokers suffering from secondhand smoke. Half of the current smokers will suffer a premature death, the document noted.

"Less than 25 percent of the people are informed of the danger caused by exposure to secondhand smoke," said Jiang Huan, deputy director of the National Office of Tobacco Control at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. "The percentage of people that know about smoking-triggered harm is very low."

Jiang noted that tobacco's price in China is still at a high level compared with the rest of the world but more measures, including printing graphic warning signs on cigarette packaging and comprehensively banning advertisements and sponsorship by tobacco companies, should be taken.

Experts rated the progress on tobacco control in recent years unsatisfactory, noting that the publicity of related information should be expanded.

"The brief document aims to facilitate the public to absorb the knowledge on smoking," said Wu Yiqun, deputy director of the ThinkTank Research Center for Health Development.

"If they don't know the dangers, the cigarette control work cannot be conducted smoothly," Wu said.

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