Smoke Alert: Chinese Academy of Engineering Honors a Tobacco Researcher
By Hannah Beech | January 5, 2012 | 3
Sean Yong / Reuters
Last month, the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) promoted a scientist to its ranks after his fourth attempt to enter the hallowed body. Not big news, perhaps, except the researcher in question, Xie Jianping, 52, happens to work for the state-owned tobacco industry. Even in a country wreathed in cigarette smoke — last year’s nationwide ban on smoking in many public spaces is routinely ignored — the appointment has caused a small furor.
On Jan. 4, the Global Times, a feisty broadsheet, ran a story saying that the appointment of a man who is vice president of a local tobacco-research institute funded by the government monopoly China National Tobacco Corporation (CNTC) “is another example of how well connected and influential the government-owned cigarette industry is in China.” Xie’s research centers on adding traditional Chinese herbs to cigarettes to reduce tar content — even though numerous international studies have shown that low-tar cigarettes are plenty harmful. He serves as the chief editor of Tobacco Science & Technology and boasts 23 patents and four copyrights to his name, according to the website of the Zhengzhou Tobacco Research Institute, where he works.
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