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Anti-smoking Campaign Gets Under Way

An anti-smoking campaign, "Toward a Smoke-free China", has been launched to get people to give up the habit which could be harmful to health.

The campaign was launched in Beijing on Friday with a fund of US$125 million. The money was donated by the New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The two-year campaign will be run by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), Peking Union Medical College and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"The joint scheme will refine and optimize tobacco control intervention in China," said China CDC director Wang Yu, calling for special attention to the problem of young people smoking.

Covering about 20 pilot provinces, the project aims to help combat tobacco use in China by creating smoke-free environments and boosting anti-smoking education.

Among China's 350 million smokers, a staggering 100 million are under the age of 18, according to the Ministry of Health.

To redress the situation, China initiated a nationwide tobacco-free-school campaign in 2003. Both students and teachers are strictly prohibited from smoking, Wang said.

International experiences show that tobacco taxation is one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, said Susan V. Lawrence, head of China programs of the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids, a US-based youth smoking intervention organization.

Today's children are tomorrow's future and they deserve top attention and care under the tobacco-free scheme, Lawrence said.

A WHO survey shows that tobacco consumption by young people drops by 14 percent when cigarette prices are put up 10 percent.

Lawrence said under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, ratified at the end of 2005, China is currently considering introducing strong warning labels on the use of tobacco products.

(China Daily April 7, 2007)

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