No agreement on warnings for team appointed to improve China's tobacco control efforts

No agreement on warnings for team appointed to improve China's tobacco control efforts

Members of an inter-ministerial team to watch and improve China's tobacco control efforts showed different attitudes toward warning graphics on tobacco packages, according to a report a law firm issued on Friday.

In 2007, China established the team to better observe the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control it signed in 2003. The team consists of seven national-level departments and the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, an administration running the China National Tobacco Corp.

In a briefing on Friday, Beijing Impact Law Firm released the report, which is a summary of answers by all eight team members to a questionnaire about tobacco control.

The firm said it sent the questionnaire in May to each member and received their replies on Sept 25.

One member, the National Health and Family Planning Commission replied by saying that it "totally supports" the idea of putting warning graphics on cigarette packs.

"Warning graphics on cigarette packs are one of the most direct, important and effective ways to inform the public about the harm of tobacco," it said in a reply on June 14.

The State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, however, said in its reply that most of the 176 signing parties of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control haven't asked warning graphics to be put on packs of cigarettes sold in their territories.

Currently, the Chinese government asks tobacco companies to put words of warning on cigarette packs.

Jiang Yuan, deputy director of the Tobacco Control Office under the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, denied the administration's words were an excuse to not use warning graphics.

"China is now the second largest economy in the world. I think it should also look to developed economies, such as Australia, in tobacco control efforts," she said.

Wang Ke'an, director of the ThinkTank Research Center for Health Development, an organisation advocating tobacco-control, reiterated that the administration should quit the team because it runs the China National Tobacco Corp and represents the interests of the Chinese tobacco industry.

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