From Research to Action – China Tobacco Control Research Symposium, Lijiang, China
China Tobacco Control Research Symposium group photo
“What is the progress of tobacco control research in China? What more needs to be done? How do we translate research into action?”
With these questions in mind, about 150 tobacco control practitioners, researchers and partners came together in October for the first China Tobacco Control Research Symposium. Held in the historic city of Lijiang, the symposium was organized by the Chinese Medical Association and co-hosted by Emory Global Health Institute, the China Tobacco Control Partnership, and China Medical Board.Li Xinghua, Director of Division of Health Promotion and Education, Ministry of Health, talked about WLF-supported mass media campaign in his presentation regarding tobacco control achievements in China.
The conference’s program revolved around a central theme, “From Research to Action”; participants discussed research, gaps in knowledge, and priorities. Attendees included representatives from the China Ministry of Health, CDC, WHO, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, various research institutes, tobacco control project sites, grassroots and international NGOs.
The symposium’s presenters shared findings from the latest research in China, noted progress made in tobacco control in the country, and covered a wide range of topics—including behavior and social science, policy and legal analysis, economics, epidemiology and surveillance, and cessation. WLF presented a session on the WHO MPOWER “Warn” strategy, which discussed the strategic use of media to raise public awareness about the dangers of tobacco and support smoke-free policies. Our session was well-received and many conference attendees subsequently approached us with questions about mass media campaigns.
Leaving the conference, I strongly felt that policymaker engagement has been a major bottleneck in pushing forward tobacco control work in China. There has been some interesting research exploring the economic impact of taxes in tobacco producing provinces—the results of which could potentially be helpful to policymakers if it were more widely known. In addition to fostering ongoing advocacy through leadership training programs, some researchers also suggested reaching out to the sub-national level People’s Congress as a potentially receptive audience and effective channel for fostering policy change.
Local advocates also called for improvements in communication about the hazards of smoking. Using language that is more easily understood by Chinese citizens may effectively increase public awareness and raise public support for tobacco control policy interventions.
The conference’s two days of intensive group discussions proved a valuable networking and knowledge-sharing opportunity, and the organizers have called for a commitment from the government and the larger tobacco community to continue these discussions regularly in the future. With the same goal in mind – namely, the support the advancement of tobacco control objectives in China – I left the symposium feeling inspired. I saw great potential and interest for broadly sharing WLF’s research on effective communications with the larger tobacco control community. We will all need to work together to focus crucial resources on effective, evidence-based communications campaigns in China.
World Lung Foundation