China's poor tobacco a systemic problem: Chinese health official

21:32, October 13, 2010      

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A Chinese health official has blamed the alleged shoddy quality of domestic tobacco on the "self-policing" system in China's tobacco industry, Health News reported Wednesday.

Jiang Yuan, vice director of the tobacco control office with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), made the remark in an interview by Health News, after returning from the ninth Asia Pacific Conference on Tobacco or Health hosted in Australia.

According to a report released on the conference, Chinese cigarettes contain about three times the level of lead, cadmium and arsenic, as well as health threatening heavy metals, when compared with Canadian cigarette brands.

Jiang said the finding was not new and it had already been published in 2009 in a British magazine, but was brought at the conference to encourage China to honor its tobacco control pledge.

Jiang said China's tobacco products were only subject to inspection from within the industry, and inspections results were not disclosed publicly making supervision less effective.

Jiang said, as a member country to WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, China should have contaminants of tobacco tested and results disclosed.

In response to a Canadian researcher's claim that China may face an unprecedented public health catastrophe caused by tobacco use, Jiang said "It's no exaggeration."

He said China has a smoking population of 300 million, and 540 million others exposed to second-hand smoking, and only 16 percent of smokers were willing to quit. Besides, while the smoking population in developed countries has begun dropping, China's was still swelling and younger people and women were starting to take up the habit.

"Only with tough measures, could China avoid a public health catastrophe," said Jiang, also calling on China to take the message from the conference as a wake-up call.

Source: Xinhua


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