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Funding for tobacco control 'inadequate'

By By Shan Jua (China Daily)

09:59, December 19, 2011

BEIJING - Annual government funding for tobacco control is just several hundred thousand yuan for each province on the Chinese mainland, far below what's needed and much less than the amounts provided in other countries, anti-smoking experts said.

In the United States, hundreds of millions of dollars are allocated annually for tobacco control research and projects, said Jonathan Samet, chairman of the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

"Although we've seen the prevalence of both the smoking epidemic and lung cancer decline in the US, tobacco control is still an urgent and important issue, given that nicotine is highly addictive and we don't want our children to take up smoking," he told China Daily in an interview on Sunday.

In 2011, the US had about 221,000 new cases of lung cancer, while about 157,000 people died from the disease, according to estimates from the US National Cancer Institute.

"Unfortunately, less-educated people today suffer the most from smoking in the US," said Samet. He said that the smoking rate among the college-educated was less than 10 percent, but it was 40 percent among those who hadn't finished high school.

Samet said that the prevalence of smoking peaked around 1961 in the US, when half of the men and 35 percent of the women smoked.

Now, less than 20 percent of the US population smokes. The rates are about equal for men and women but vary widely across the country, he said.

Tobacco control campaigns in the US started in the 1960s, following the first report linking smoking and lung cancer. Most offices and public places have become smoke-free in the past 15 years.

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