While the ‘low-tar’ scheme has been widely recognised as a misleading tactic used by the tobacco industry to deceive the public about the true risks of cigarette smoking, a similar campaign using the slogan of ‘less harmful, low tar’ was launched by the Chinese tobacco industry, that is, State Tobacco Monopoly Administration/China National Tobacco Corporation and began to gain traction during the last decade. Despite the fact that no sufficient research evidence supports the claims made by the industry that these cigarettes are safer, the Chinese tobacco industry has continued to promote them using various health claims. As a result, the production and sales of ‘less harmful, low-tar’ cigarettes have increased dramatically since 2000. Recently, a tobacco industry senior researcher, whose main research area is ‘less harmful, low-tar’ cigarettes, was elected as an Academician to the prestigious Chinese Academy of Engineering for his contribution to developing ‘less harmful, low-tar’ cigarettes. The tobacco researcher's election caused an outcry from the tobacco control community and the general public in China. This paper discusses the Chinese tobacco industry's ‘less harmful, low-tar’ initiatives and calls for the Chinese government to stop the execution of this deceptive strategy for tobacco marketing.
- Tobacco industry
- Public policy
- Low/Middle income country
- Harm Reduction
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