Project aims to curb smoking

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Project aims to curb smoking

A customer holds two packages of chocolates shaped like huge cigarettes at a candy shop in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, on Saturday. The shop's owner said the boxes make people think about replacing cigarettes with candy. 

A foreign-funded tobacco control project was launched in 10 Chinese cities on Tuesday, following public outcries for stronger political will from top leadership to protect people from the deadly smoking epidemic.

It is the second phase of the Tobacco Free Cities project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in China. The first was launched in seven cities, including Ningbo, in East China's Zhejiang province, and Qingdao, in East China's Shandong province, in mid-2009.

The 10 cities' vice-mayors signed official pledges at the launch to strive to create tobacco-free cities for residents in return for shares of the $2.2 million project fund.

The cities included Zhejiang's provincial capital Hangzhou, Liaoning province's Dalian city, Jiangsu province's Suzhou city and capital Nanjing, and the Ningxia Hui autonomous region's capital Yinchuan.

"The two-year project aims to enhance the overall capacity in smoking-tobacco control of the cities and help ease the burden caused by tobacco to public health, the environment and the economy," Emory Global Health Institute director Jeffrey Koplan said.

The institute oversees the project in partnership with the Beijing-based non-governmental organization ThinkTank Research Center for Health Development.

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