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Experts protest tobacco money for charity

2010-11-15 11:26

Money from tobacco sales for charity? A majority of people say it can be valid and helpful.

An online survey conducted by the Beijing Times at news portal on Friday shows about 80 percent of respondents saying a donation worth 10 million yuan (US$1.51 million) from China Tobacco Corp for two aid-for-women projects as acceptable.

The Golden Leaf Fund, set up on Nov 10 by the nation's largest government-supported tobacco company, will support the initiative of the China Women's Development Foundation (CWDF) to help improve the health of women and children, especially those in poor rural areas, and ensure their access to safe drinking water.

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In spite of support from online voices shown in the survey, the money at the cost of damage to public health is, as called by NGOs and experts in China, another marketing campaign by the company.

"The China Women's Development Foundation shouldn't have accepted the donation," said Jiang Yuan, deputy director of the National Office of Tobacco Control, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It just equals full support for advertising of tobacco and cigarettes, which, in any form, is banned by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which came into effect in China in 2006."

Xu Yongguang, secretary-general of the Narada Foundation, a private foundation organization, also agrees it would be more acceptable if the tobacco industry's attention to charity can happen in a more quiet way.

"Financially sound companies, like tobacco corporations, can be better understood by the public, if they can leave their names out, just do good and help solve the problem of fund shortage,” Xu said.

"A positive image of the tobacco industry produced through the projects will be damaging for the youth in the areas the projects go to," Jiang said.

Sponsored by the Sichuan provincial tobacco company, a primary school rebuilt in the quake-hit province in 2008 was named Sichuan Tobacco Hope Primary School last year. There are 17 such schools in other areas of China.

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