Article Text

Challenges for philanthropy and tobacco control in China (1986–2012)
  1. Pamela Redmon1,
  2. Lincoln C Chen2,
  3. Jacob L Wood1,
  4. Shuyang Li1,
  5. Jeffrey P Koplan1
  1. 1Global Health Institute, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  2. 2China Medical Board, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Pamela Redmon, Global Health Institute, Emory University, 1599 Clifton Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA; predmon{at}


Objective To identify the international philanthropies that have invested in tobacco control in China, describe their role and strategies in changing the social norms of tobacco use, and define the outcomes achieved.

Methods Information on the international philanthropic donor China projects, including activities and outcomes, was gathered from multiple sources including organisational websites, key informant interviews and emails with project officers, and published research papers and reports.

Results Philanthropic donations to China's tobacco control efforts began in 1986. The donors provided funds to national, city, provincial government organisations, non-government organisations, universities, and healthcare organisations throughout China to establish a tobacco control workforce and effective programmes to reduce the burden of tobacco use.

Conclusions International engagement has been an important dimension of tobacco control in China. Recognising the large burden of illness and capitalising on proven effective control measures, philanthropic organisations understandably seized the opportunity to achieve major health gains. Much of the international philanthropic investment has been directed at public information, policy change and building the Chinese research knowledge base. Documenting research and evaluation findings will continue to be important to ensure that promising practices and lessons learned are identified and shared with the China tobacco control practitioners. The ultimate question is whether foreign philanthropy is making a difference in tobacco control and changing social norms in China? The answer is plainly and simply that we do not know; the evidence is not yet available.

  • Public policy
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Prevention
  • Global health
  • Surveillance and monitoring

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 3.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

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