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Expo bureau rejects tobacco group's donation

2009. 21 July

by Wang Xiang
( THE Shanghai World Expo 2010 bureau has rejected a 200 million yuan (US$29.27 million) donation from Shanghai Tobacco Group so as not to go against China's anti-smoking efforts and taint the healthy image of the world event.

The Expo authority originally agreed to the donation on May 7 and the money was supposed to be used to partially fund construction of China Pavilion, according to the bureau's Website.

However, the donation soon aroused concern among health experts who said accepting the group's donation was not in line with the bureau's pledge to offer a "green and smoke-free" Expo.

More than 20 experts issued a joint letter in Beijing this month to call on the Expo authority to turn down the tobacco donation. They said acceptance would violate the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a worldwide paper issued by the World Health Organization in 2003.

The framework bans all tobacco commercials and sponsorship at international events.

China signed the decree in November 2003, with it taking effect in 2005.

According to the Expo Website, donors receive a tax cut and those who give more than 1 million yuan will have their names carved into a wall at China Pavilion.

Now that it has rejected the tobacco group's donation, the biggest donation stands at 100 million yuan, given by a Hong Kong millionaire.

Supporters of the tobacco group's donation said the 200 million yuan would contribute significantly to building the 1.5-million-square-meter China Pavilion.

China is now the largest tobacco producing and consuming country in the world. One third of the world's smokers, or 350 million people, are Chinese and 1.2 million of them die every year in China.