The Globe and Mail wrote: In China, cigarettes are a kind of wonder drug
By GEOFFREY YORK
Saturday, June 11, 2005 Updated at 3:27 AM EDT
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Guiyang, China — Here's some exciting medical news from the Chinese government: Smoking is great for your health.
Cigarettes, according to China's tobacco authorities, are an excellent way to prevent ulcers.
They also reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease, relieve schizophrenia, boost your brain cells, speed up your thinking, improve your reactions and increase your working efficiency.
And all those warnings about lung cancer? Nonsense.
You're more likely to get cancer from cooking smoke than from your cigarette habit.
Welcome to the bizarre parallel universe of China's state-owned tobacco monopoly, the world's most successful cigarette-marketing agency.
With annual sales of 1.8 trillion cigarettes, the Chinese monopoly is responsible for almost one-third of all cigarettes smoked on the planet today.
If you believe the official website of the tobacco monopoly, cigarettes are a kind of miracle drug: solving your health problems, helping your lifestyle, strengthening the equality of women, and even eliminating loneliness and depression.
“Smoking removes your troubles and worries,” says a 37-year-old female magazine editor, quoted approvingly on the website. “Holding a cigarette is like having a walking stick in your hand, giving you support.
“Quitting smoking would bring you misery, shortening your life.”
Such statements are widely believed in China.
Two-thirds of Chinese men are smokers, and surveys show that as many as 90 per cent believe their habit has little effect on their health, or is good for them.
Even in China's medical community, 60 per cent of male doctors are smokers. Few are aware of the studies forecasting that cigarettes will soon be responsible for one-third of all premature deaths among Chinese men.
For the anti-smoking movement, China is the ultimate challenge. Nonetheless, this week, a group of Canadian experts arrived in southwestern China in a bid to convince Chinese smokers that cigarettes might not be quite as beneficial as they believe.
They distributed anti-smoking posters, visited cancer patients, showed the graphic warnings on Canadian cigarette packs, and lectured on how the anti-smoking campaign has reduced Canada's lung-cancer rate. But they admitted that they face an uphill struggle in a country where the tobacco industry provides 60 million jobs and 10 per cent of national tax revenue.
“The magnitude of the problem is overwhelming,” said Jean Couture, a Quebec surgeon who has been travelling to China since 1990 to work on cancer-education programs.
The article goes on to state that an estimated 1.3 million Chinese are dying every year as a result of cigarette smoking. At what point does deliberate health misinformation cause such dire consequences that we can call it a holocaust? Can you even blame the smokers for making bad choices when their own government is feeding them these falsehoods?