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Experts fume at tobacco technology award

2012-04-10 15:52 China Daily     Web Editor: Su Jie comment

The country's health experts appealed to the Ministry of Science and Technology to remove the tobacco technology project from the shortlist for the National Award for Science and Technology Progress, in a bid to prohibit certain research activities from harming human health.

The award shortlist, publicized on the ministry's website on March 23, includes Chinese-style cigarette technology, which may soften the taste of cigarettes and improve tobacco processing techniques.

The ministry has begun soliciting public opinion about the award list, which will last until April 30.

"The technologies violated relevant guidelines of the country's award for science and technology, as well as the national science and technology progress law, which clearly formulates that any research activities can not harm human health," Yang Gonghuan, head of the China Tobacco Control Office affiliated with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told the Global Times Monday.

The technology also deviates from the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control issued by the World Health Organization, which requires all parties to uncompromisingly reduce tobacco product consumption, and has been put into play in China since 2006, Yang noted.

Yang also wrote a letter to the Minister of Science and Technology, Wan Gang, to oppose awarding the tobacco company the prize.

Yang appealed to the ministry to review the previous six prizes given to the tobacco industry, with three of them awarding technologies reducing the effects of tar in tobacco.

The ministry has received a letter from the Chinese CDC and already negotiated with the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, who submitted the awards project, an official with the ministry was quoted by the Bejing News as saying Monday.

"Various work is being carried out smoothly according to the formal procedure," the official said.

Wang Ke'an, director of the Beijing-based Thinktank Research Center for Health Development, told the Global Times the original goal of the technology is to attract more people to take up smoking or continue their habit through adding fragrant ingredients and softening the taste of cigarettes.

The application of the technology enhanced product quality and market adaptability, and the total sales income of cigarettes has increased by 173.57 billion yuan ($27.5) in past three years, with the country's tax income rising about 142 billion yuan, the ministry said., the country's leading science portal co-sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, started to collect signatures online to oppose rewards on the technology on Sunday.

As of Monday, more than 100 opponents' signatures had been collected, with most of them being professors.

This is not the first time that experts have attacked tobacco technologies.

Last December, experts criticized the Chinese Academy of Engineering for recruiting Xie Jianping, who has done research on how to reduce the effects of tar in tobacco.

Xie also works on adding traditional Chinese herb medicines to cigarettes.

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