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June 1, 2013

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Tobacco museum removes signs

A TOBACCO-THEMED museum in Shanghai, long criticized for enticing children to smoke by ignoring the health risks, yesterday removed bronze plaques which described it as an "education base."

While tobacco-control experts welcomed the move, calling it a "great achievement after years of tobacco control efforts," the city government said the China Tobacco Museum would continue to serve as an education base for young people.

"The bronze plates are temporarily removed because they were too old," an official with the propaganda department said. He didn't comment about the timing of the move, the World No Tobacco Day.

Yang Gonghuan, deputy director with the Beijing-based Chinese Association on Tobacco Control, told Wenhui Daily newspaper that three bronze plagues had been removed from the museum entrance.

They marked the titles awarded to the museum of "Patriotic Education Base," "Science Education Base" and "Model Unit for Shanghai Juveniles' Moral Education."

Yang told the newspaper the removals were "gratifying progress" and "the best tobacco control action in Shanghai for the World No Tobacco Day."

"The museum has much to do for rectification, but this is a good start for Shanghai supervisors," said Yang.

The museum and its titles first sparked controversy last August when tobacco-control experts said research showed the museum was leading young people to have a positive view of smoking.

The museum on Yangpu District's Changyang Road is often visited by primary and secondary school students, health experts said.

They were critical of its recommendation as a science and patriotic education base for schoolchildren as they found during the visit that health risks and China's tobacco control efforts were scarcely mentioned.

Yang told the newspaper the museum displayed pictures showing historic celebrities, such as Lu Xun, smoking cigarettes.

However, the museum failed to say Lu died at the age of 56 due to a serious lung disease or that his doctor had asked him to quit smoking many times.


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