Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Press Releases

Tobacco: the culture, the money and the hazards

BBC World Service has launched a special series of programming, Tobacco: The Culture, The Money And The Hazards. The series explores the social and economic role of the tobacco industry and culture in East Asia.

This year's World No Tobacco Day 2010 is due to take place on Monday 31 May and will focus on the issue of "gender and tobacco".

In the days leading up to the event, the BBC's East Asian services, including BBC Burmese, BBC Chinese, BBC Indonesia and BBC Vietnamese, will offer special multimedia features exploring the relationship between gender and smoking habits, as well as the extent of cigarette smoking across the region. In addition, the services will also be talking to Dr Ala Alwan, Assistant Director General of World Health Organisation (WHO), to discuss tobacco use in the region.

East Asia Executive Editor, BBC World Service, Neil Curry, says: "Smoking is still very big business in many parts of East Asia. In our special programming in four languages we aim to look at this massive industry from all angles. We'll be looking at the health issues around the habit, of course, but also at how it provides a livelihood for so many individuals and valuable tax revenues for national governments."

BBC Indonesia explores the economic benefits the tobacco industry is bringing to Indonesia – and the health bill the nation is footing for its love affair with smoking in a series of programmes. Dewi Safitri will report from Java and Sumatra, where she is interviewing people from across the tobacco industry chain. From ordinary farmers, traditional cigarette-makers in villages and street vendors to major representatives of leading cigarette producers – people whose livelihoods depend on tobacco are talking to the BBC about their trade. To highlight the effect of the smoking culture on the health of Indonesians, Dewi is also talking to health researchers, consumer protection officers and Indonesia's Health Minister Endang Sedyaningsih.

The programmes will be available online at, where audience members can also take part in an online discussion forum and can view the Tobacco: The Culture, The Money And The Hazards picture gallery.

BBC Chinese will be speaking to industry experts on the impact of smoking on the public's health and the social function of cigarettes in China, as well as talking to members of the smoking public to hear their views on the proposed smoking ban.

In addition, will be home to a number of features, exploring topics such as the role of the tobacco industry in the Chinese economy, the relationship between gender and smoking and a comparison of different cultural attitudes to smoking across the globe. The website will also be home to a world map showing the percentage of smokers in each country, as well as an online gallery of tobacco-related health warnings from East Asia and an online forum, where audience members can discuss their personal experiences of quitting smoking.

BBC Vietnamese will feature several online debates on topics including female tribal smokers, the rising levels of young women who are taking up the habit and passive smoking. The website will also feature an online picture gallery, Once Upon A Time In History, which reflects on a time when smoking was seen to signify power. The gallery can be viewed at and contains images of political leaders who were known to be smokers, including Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Deng Xiaoping, Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh and Mao Zedong.

BBC World Service International Publicity

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