tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.

tocacco Cigarettes are smoking products consumed by people and made out of cut tobacco leaves. Cigars are typically composed completely of whole-leaf tobacco. A cigarette has smaller size, composed of processed leaf, and white paper wrapping. The term cigarette refers to a tobacco cigarette too but it can apply to similar devices containing other herbs, such as cannabis.
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China has failed on tobacco control, needs major reforms

For five decades, Lao Long’s lungs have endured cigarette after cigarette—thousands of cigarettes inhaled with chemicals and China smokerscarcinogens ingested with each puff. Smoking had been a comforting and relaxing short-term pleasure for Lao, but the advent of lung cancer now has him filled with regret and struggling for his life. In Beijing’s Xuanwu Hospital, Lao stares undauntedly at the needle slowly penetrating the vein in his hand. Needles rate as a minor nuisance compared to the harrowing reality of lung cancer. Along with Lao, the surgical ward has more than 40 lung cancer patients, with the youngest just over 30, and like Lao, 90 percent have smoked for decades. The fatal disease has converted the majority to an anti-smoking stance, where their regret has brought them the resolve to finally quit. “It’s about time we understand that life is much more important than smoking,” Lao said.

According to China’s Tobacco Control Report issued in 2010, each year over one million people die from smoking-related diseases. Yet despite this, China has failed to fulfill its commitment to ban smoking entirely in offices and indoor public places five years after it signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2006.

While the number of smokers has remained high, there’s been a sharp increase in the victims of second-hand smoke in the past five years, and the in the last three years the number has grown by 200 million.

According to a research conducted by 60 medical experts, economists and legal professors, tobacco is responsible for the rampant spread of the chronic diseases, and tobacco manufacturing is the most hazardous industry.

The research report, “Tobacco Control and China’s Future,” revealed the medical costs and labor force loses caused by tobacco exceeds the revenue of the industry, which poses a negative value of the net social benefit, which was calculated at minus 60 billion yuan ($9.08 million) last year.

“The negative impact will be expanded in the next 20 years if tobacco is not controlled appropriately,” said Yang Gonghuan, deputy director from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the report, by 2030 three million people will die from diseases caused by smoking. That figure accounts for a quarter of the total deaths, a percentage over 20 points higher than for fatal diseases such as AIDS.

In what makes the situation even grimmer, the government’s countermeasures have been less effective than anticipated.

“The tobacco industry has generated a huge amount of tax revenue, so it’s hard for the government to resolve to trim it,” Yang said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently scored the countries that participated in the tobacco control convention and gave China a 37.3—one of the lowest ratings.

Many are asking why the government seems so ambivalent despite the harm tobacco inflicts upon citizens. According to Yang and Wu Yiqun, the deputy director of the Think Tank Research Center for Health Development, it’s largely due to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s lack of leadership and general disorganization.

In 2007, China set up a tobacco-control group led by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. It was responsible to fulfill China’s commitment from the 2006 convention. However, the same ministry simultaneously oversees China National Tobacco Corp., the largest tobacco manufacturer in the world by sales. Yang said it’s a precarious and conflicting position for the ministry. “The ministry plays dual roles, as if in a sporting event one player also served as referee,” Yang said.

In November 2010, the countries that participated in the convention gathered in Uruguay to discuss the regulations on controlling tobacco ingredients and revealing their negative effects. However, the Chinese delegate strongly protested and explained that tobacco is a key industry for China. That protest won the Chinese delegate the “Dirty Ashtray” nomination.

In addition to the administrative disarrangement, the tobacco-control campaign lacks legal support to eliminate the tricky advertisements and promotional events held by tobacco companies. There are no laws that prohibit public smoking or tobacco advertisements. Furthermore, tobacco companies began using charities as promotional tools. According to the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control, 52 tobacco companies had held 79 charity affairs and promotional events from September to December 2009. In 2010, China National Tobacco Corp. donated 10 million yuan to establish the Golden Leaves Foundation.

Even more perverse, Chinese cigarette packaging usually features pleasant depictions of pandas or majestic shots of the Great Wall, instead of printing drastic warnings coupled with vivid images that show the potentially horrific consequences of smoking. The required warning occupies only a small space with the simple “smoking is harmful to your health.”

Low taxation makes cigarettes very affordable, and although China has levied five percent more taxation on tobacco wholesales since 2009, the price remains low compared with other countries. For example, a package of Marlboro costs $2.04 in China while it’s $9.39 in Singapore and $11.48 in Norway.

Experts like Yang and Wu believe tobacco control should be listed as a strategic campaign in the country’s 12th Five Year Plan and should draw attention from the State Council, which can separate the tobacco enterprises from the government management. According to the “Tobacco Control and China’s Future,” the next 20 years offer a good opportunity for China to regulate its tobacco control policies.

“It will be a touchstone to test the government’s ability to transform the health-hazardous economy into health-friendly economy,” Yang said.

By Wu Jin, January 10, 2011

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