WHO's Chan awards China's Chen Zhu for tobacco control

News release
18 July 2012

The World Health Organization (WHO) has awarded Professor Chen Zhu, Minister of Health, People's Republic of China, with a Director-General's Special Recognition Certificate.

On 18 July, 2012, in a ceremony attended by Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, Dr. Shin Yong-Soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Region, and Dr Michael O'Leary, WHO Representative in China, Minister Chen Zhu received high recognition for his commitment to tobacco control.

Dr Margaret Chan praised Minister Chen Zhu's achievements in the fight against tobacco use, and his contribution to the global movement to end the burden of death and disease caused by tobacco.

China has signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and ratified it in 2005. Worldwide the FCTC is the most important tool for parties in the fight against the tobacco epidemic.

China has made considerable efforts in tobacco control over the past several years, such as a drive to achieve smoke-free hospitals and smoke-free cities. Smoking cessation has also been a focus of recent activity, with the "12320" telephone quitline being launched in four cities.

The "China Report on the Health Hazards of Smoking" was released by the Ministry of Health in May, 2012. The report outlines the hazards of tobacco use, states the health effects of second-hand smoke, and emphasizes the importance of smoking cessation.

China’s 12th Five-Year Plan includes improving life expectancy by one year. Increasing tobacco control efforts will accelerate this effort. As Minister Chen Zhu has stated “Sustained and public support for effective tobacco control by all levels of the Chinese Government will lead to a giant leap forward towards achieving improved life expectancy"..

Tobacco use is a leading preventable cause of death, in the world and in China. Each year, smoking kills nearly 6 million people worldwide. Approximately 1 million people in China die from a tobacco-related heart attack, stroke, cancer, lung ailment or other disease.

Every year, WHO recognizes individuals or organizations in each of the six WHO Regions for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control. The Prime Minister of Kazakhstan and an official from Brazil also received Director General Special Awards this year for tobacco control.

This award falls just after the China Forum on Tobacco Control, attended by Minister Chen Zhu and WHO. Interference of tobacco companies with tobacco control was a key theme of this conference.

For more information please contact:

Helen Yu
Communications Officer, WHO China
Tel: 86 10 65327191
Email: yuji@wpro.who.int