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China-US Public Health Education for Tobacco Control Expert Summit was held at Zhejiang University
Date:2011-05-23 14:36 

 

Hangzhou,May 16th The China-US Public Health Education for Tobacco Control Expert Summit was held by American and Chinese experts at Zhejiang University. A delegation of four health education experts from the United States, led by Dr. Thomas Davis President of the American Association for Health Education, participated in the summit. Tobacco control is a very urgent issue in China. Nearly 100 million people die from smoking-related diseases each year, and the number of deaths caused by passive smoking is estimated to be more than 10 million. In order to reach the tobacco use targets made by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, to which China is a participant, all aspects of society must get actively involved in tobacco control work. Advocating for policy changes and launching smoke-free environment activities have been initiated in many places across China.
The U.S. started its campaign to control tobacco use in the 1950s and 1960s when the first studies began to indicate a link between smoking and disease. At that time about 50% of the US population used tobacco products. Over the next 60 years educational campaigns, advocacy efforts, legal restrictions, and a gradual change in cultural acceptance of tobacco use have successfully reduced tobacco use to less than 20% of the US adult population. China began its tobacco control program much later than in the US. Large-scale tobacco control efforts in China were begun just in the last few years. There are many cities like Hangzhou and Yinchuan that have passed tobacco control legislation. Recently the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education issued advice on strengthening the efforts to control tobacco use in schools. Overall, however, efforts to control tobacco use in China have not been as effective as they could be. There needs to be more and stronger public policies and laws developed and more enforcement of compliance. Further, public health education should go hand in hand with policy development and enforcement. The people need to know why these policies are being developed and need assistance in quitting their tobacco habits. The society needs to gradually move from accepting tobacco as a normal part of life to shunning tobacco as a harmful agent to society. The gifting of tobacco needs to be seen as a negative behavior instead of a positive behavior. Public health education will need to play a major role in creating this cultural shift.
The meeting of Chinese and US tobacco control experts facilitated the sharing of important tobacco control information. As part of the meeting, Dr. Yang Tingzhong presented information about the university tobacco advocacy project that is currently being conducted through the Center for Tobacco Control Research at Zhejiang University. Dr. Xiaobo Cui provided information about tobacco control work in Beijing. US expert, Dr. Kathleen Young shared information about a university based tobacco advocacy program in California and Bill Potts-Datema discussed federal anti-tobacco initiatives. Dr. Tom Davis, President of the American Association for Health Education presented information on his association and its role in US Health Education efforts. Dr. Yang notes that exchanges such as this allow both countries to learn from each other. It is hoped that through such exchanges the capacity for tobacco advocacy and control efforts will be enhanced.