Controversy arises over tobacco industry's public welfare donations

16:46, November 15, 2010      

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The State Tobacco Monopoly Administration (STMA) donated 10 million yuan to the China Women's Development Foundation (CWDF) on Nov. 10 to establish the "Golden Leave Fund" for the foundation's "Mother's Water Cellar" and "Mothers' Health" projects. The two projects aim to address the water issue in poor and arid areas of western China and improve the health of women and children in western China.

However, some non-governmental organizations and the Smoke Control Office of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) have opposed the donation because they believe the donation was against the "Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)," which China joined in 2006.

According to Article 13 of the FCTC, parties should comprehensively ban all sorts of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. Experts from the Smoke Control Office of China CDC say that the definition of tobacco sponsorship includes any kind of donations.

Jiang Yuan, deputy director of the Smoke Control Office of China CDC, said that the CWDF should not have accepted the donation and supported tobacco companies' marketing activities. She notes that tobacco companies have tried all marketing means and this is simply another type of disguised marketing means. Through public welfare donations, the tobacco industry is building up a positive image among ordinary people in poor areas of western China so teenagers there will consider tobacco beneficial.

Given the peculiar situation of the tobacco industry, the Beijing Times held an online survey on whether the tobacco industry should involve itself in donations on Nov. 12. About 80 percent of respondents agree with donations from tobacco enterprises.

Some netizens said that since the revenues of tobacco companies come from the people, they should be used for the people. Only 20 percent opposed it and believe that even if tobacco companies' donations are used for public welfare, they will lead to negative consequences.

By People's Daily Online


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