Anti-Tobacco Organizations Criticize Tobacco-Sponsored Competitions

Anti-tobacco advocates criticized a tobacco company’s decision to sponsor a sport competition, calling this move a “skilful advertising of their product rather than charity”.

The Beijing Tobacco Factory that is known for its popular cigarette brand – Zhongnanhai, is sponsoring a national five-city parkour event in collaboration with the Beijing donation center of the Hope Project that is the major charitable organization in China.

Parkour is a sport or activity of running through urban areas while performing various gymnastic manoeuvres over or on man-made obstacles such as walls and buildings.

Named after the factory’s cigarette product, the parkour competition will start in Beijing on July 31 and will conclude on Aug 26 in the Diqing Tibet autonomous region, where a Hope Project school named “Zhongnanhai” will be inaugurated.

“All this charity is a well thought-out tobacco promotion,” Wu Yiqun, a Beijing-based anti-tobacco advocate stated at a symposium.

During the competition the images of cigarette packs, the brand names and such words as “light” can be observe on the participant’s clothing and hoardings, stated Wu, who is a vice director of the Beijing-based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Think Tank Research Center for Health Development.

China passed the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2005, and prohibited tobacco advertising in local magazines, newspapers on TV and radio.

“This parkour competition is the tobacco company’s way to short-circuit the convention guidelines,” Shen Weixing, a law professor at Tsinghua University, declared.

There is need in more legislation efforts in order to reflect the convention guidelines in national legislation and help citizens make sound judgments.

Anti-tobacco organizations have sent a letter to the Hope Project’s Beijing donation center, demanding to prevent the competition.

“We don’t want to see the Hope Project that has exposed so many people, be used by the tobacco industry,” Wu added.

The rate of smoking teenagers in China rose over the last few years.

More than 15 million teenagers in the country are smokers and another 14 million have tried smoking, according to data presented by the Ministry of Health.

“According to our findings the more young people are exposed to tobacco advertising, the highest are the chances that they will start smoking,” Sarah England the technical officer of the WHO in China declared.

Tobacco manufacturers all over the world are spending billions of dollars in order to attract more and more young people to their addictive and harmful tobacco products.

Tobacco producers promote their products at those places and sources where young people can be easily accessed, on the Internet, in movies, magazines and different sport competitions and entertainments.

At present tobacco kills a million Chinese people every year. In case the current trend continues our century will face 3 million Chinese deaths annually due to tobacco use, according to the report presented by the WHO.

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