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Academician under fire for tobacco research (2)


18:53, December 14, 2011

Yang said she hopes the mounting public fume can lead to an open debate on the legal feasibility of low-tar cigarette research. She urged the authorities to curtail funding on research that has been categorically banned by a WHO-initiated treaty.

China is the world's largest cigarette consumer. The country has 300 million smokers, and more than 740 million non-smokers are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke, according to experts' estimates. About 1.2 million people died of smoking-related illnesses each year.

Beijing is a signatory of the World Health Organization-initiated tobacco control treaty -- Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, but implementation is slow mainly due to sabotage from the powerful tobacco industry, health experts have said.

The government in May enacted a ban on smoking in indoor public venues, but experts say the ban, which fails to stipulate supervision and punishment, is toothless and needs to be upgraded to a comprehensive tobacco control law, which would be the country's first such legislation.

A survey released by a non-government environmental group in November found that the smoking ban had been completely ignored by half of the Beijing restaurants surveyed since May.

Neither Xie nor the authorities of the Chinese Academy of Engineering have publicly commented since the controversy heated up.

Deng Haihua, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said tobacco control, including implementation of the FCTC, remains an arduous task and needs concerted efforts from all circles of society.

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