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Experts: Save youth from tobacco ad harm
By Xin Dingding (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-12 09:26

Chinese experts have urged in Beijing that more should be done to prevent residents, especially young people, from becoming hooked on tobacco.

The experts made a declaration that tobacco advertising should be removed from sporting events, such as Formula One, which will soon be hosted in Shanghai.

"This is because youngsters are the key in the fight against tobacco," said Wu Zhaosu, vice-chairman of the Chinese Smoking and Health Association. He spoke over the weekend at a symposium sponsored by the Think-tank Research Centre for Health Development, a non-governmental organization.

Wu said surveys have found that nearly 90 per cent of adult smokers start smoking before the age of 18 in China.

And of that group, the young are very likely to be influenced by sports they watch, said Wu Yiqun, a professor and executive director of the Thinktank research centre.

She quoted research done in the United Kingdom, which showed an average of 12.8 per cent 12- and 13-year-old non-smoking boys who would start smoking within the next year after watching sporting events they like.

However, among boys the same age who said they would not watch such sports, only 7 per cent said they would start smoking.

In addition to sports with tobacco producers as major sponsors, experts agreed that movies and TV have negative influences on youngsters.

"Research has found that popular movies projected in China's cinemas between 2001 and 2002 have scenes of people smoking an average of 6 minutes for each of them, and most TV shows have such scenes, too," said Li Xinhua, an official with the Ministry of Health.

"With China joining the World Trade Organization, the country will keep its promise to lower tariffs for tobacco to 10 per cent, while reducing tariffs for cigarettes to 25 per cent this year," said Li.

The official predicted that both the import and consumption of tobacco are likely to rise this year.

China joined the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control last November, but the government has long been working on tobacco control by drawing up laws and carrying out activities to make people aware in safeguarding health.

Efforts have been specially devoted to the prevention of youth smoking.

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