August 27th, 2012
Losing the battle in a country where tobacco sponsors schools
By John Garnaut
Sydney Morning Herald
FEW people outside China have heard of the world’s biggest tobacco company, which is so powerful it can brazenly engrave false advertising in huge letters on primary school walls.
‘’Tobacco nurtures talent,’’ said the slogan on the quadrangle wall at a school in Guang’an city, which is co-sponsored by the China Tobacco Corp and Project Hope of the Communist Youth League.
When the students at Sichuan Tobacco Hope School reach the peak of their careers, in about 2050, the number of smoking-related deaths in China will have tripled to about 3 million a year, according to the World Health Organisation.
The existence of dozens of new tobacco-sponsored schools is an example of how new public health measures are being outmuscled by the world’s biggest tobacco company.
The multinational companies known as ‘’Big Tobacco’’ are famous for their capacity to lobby governments. But in China there is just one company, China Tobacco Corp, and it is government-owned. Tobacco Corp has a near-total monopoly on the 2.3 trillion cigarettes sold under 900 brands to 301 million Chinese smokers each year.