Experts slam tobacco-sponsored event

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, August 13, 2010
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Anti-tobacco advocates on Thursday criticized a tobacco company's move to sponsor a sports event, calling it a "bold promotion of their product rather than charity".

The parkour event sponsored by Beijing Tobacco Factory.

The Beijing Tobacco Factory, which manufactures the Zhongnanhai brand of cigarettes, is sponsoring a national five-city parkour event in collaboration with the Beijing donation center of the Hope Project, a major charitable organization in China.

Parkour is the physical discipline of overcoming any obstacle within one's path by adapting one's movements to the environment.

Named after the factory's cigarette product, the parkour rally kicked off in Beijing on July 31 and will conclude on Aug 26 in the Diqing Tibet autonomous region in Southwest China's Yunnan province, where a Hope Project school named "Zhongnanhai" will be inaugurated.

"It is an activity in the name of charity, but actually it is a bold tobacco promotion," said Wu Yiqun, a Beijing-based anti-tobacco advocate at a symposium on Thursday.

Through the event, images of cigarette packets, the brand names, and words like "lights", are visible on the participants' clothing and hoardings, said Wu, who is also the deputy director of the Beijing-based NGO Think Tank Research Center for Health Development.

China ratified the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2005, and has banned tobacco advertising on TV, radio, in local magazines and newspapers.

"The parkour event is the tobacco company's way to go around the convention guidelines," Shen Weixing, a law professor at Tsinghua University, said.

"More legislation efforts are needed to reflect the convention guidelines in domestic laws and help the public make sound judgments."

Anti-tobacco advocates have sent a letter to the Hope Project's Beijing donation center, asking the organization to stop the event.

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