Dad started smoking when he was three years old. A family story is that at 10 and already smoking, Dad’s big brother, Burl, got his little brother to smoke too. People in the U.S. then didn’t know the hazards of smoking.
At 65, Dad died a painful death of brain and lung cancer. Uncle Burl died of liver cancer. Both causes were tobacco related.
Today in China about 1 million people a year die of smoking related causes, but according to “The Heavy Smoke over China” by Alex Hoegberg in the May 2012 That’s Zhejiang only one in four Chinese people recognizes that smoking is bad for their health–and the health of those around them!
My Chinese students have told me that tobacco is good because of all the jobs it provides. The only non-Chinese tobacco company allowed to sell cigarettes in China is Phillip Morris, so thousands of Chinese are involved in the growing, producing, and selling tobacco.
China is the biggest producer and consumer of tobacco–350 million Chinese smoke. Three million more Chinese start smoking each year. According to Xin, Dingding (2009-12-11) in “Smoke-free list extends to healthcare facilities” China Daily, 60% of the Chinese doctors smoke!
Although the Chinese government banned smoking in public places starting last May, it is a rule that is not enforced. Gifting cigarettes is a part of the culture. At the wedding we attended last summer, cigarettes were forced on all of us. Giving cigarettes is seen as a sign of friendship and respect.
Since 1988, the World Health Assembly celebrates May 31 as “World No-Tobacco Day.” The 2012 theme is – tobacco industry interference: (http://www.altiusdirectory.com/Society/2008/04/may-31st-world-no-tobacco-day-history.html)
The World Health Organization notes that tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of all deaths (http://www.globalissues.org/article/533/tobacco).
Although the Chinese government is making great strides in increasing health care to its citizens, tobacco regulation isn’t enforced. Perhaps because the Chinese government receives one of its largest tax revenues from the tobacco industry, which produces 42% of the world’s cigarettes, those no-smoking laws are ignored.
The tobacco industry is a huge. It continues to kill loved people all over the world.
China needs to tell its people.
And even in the U.S. and countries that know the dangers of smoking, people smoke. A recent study in Wisconsin notes that while the percentage of adults smoking has held at 20% for years, it is now moving up.
In recognition of world-wide annual “No Tobacco Day”–May 31 — remind everyone you know–stop smoking–for themselves and those who love them.
Dad didn’t live long enough to meet Barry’s and my son. That loss is sad for all of us.
Please stop smoking.
Aloha and zaì jiàn, Renée
Ruth did a great summary of our weekend in Shanghai. Our places to share grows. Come visit.
Since this last weekend would be our last opportunity to visit our dear friends Renee and Barry in their Shanghai apartment before they return to Hawaii we were delighted that the weather was fine and we were finally able to see them.We arrived in Shanghai at 5pm and were met at the South Bus station which is a convenient short walk from the apartment given them by Shanghai Normal University. So it is different from the Lin’an setup as it is not a campus university. WE had a wonderful noodle supper lovingly prepared by Renee and then went out on the town. We went down to East Nanjing Road , the throbbing pedestrian street at the heart of the city and walked down to the famed Peace Hotel,where Barry assured us there would be live Jazz. Sure enough we were treated for the sum of 100 RMB including one drink…
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“Nirvana Day,” the anniversary date of Buddha’s passing fell on March 7 this year. We were included in a celebration, so we got to see the Longhua Buddhist Temple and Monastery, the oldest and largest active Buddhist temple in Shanghai. It was first built in 242 AD in the style of the Song Dynasty. Since then, it has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. The nearby Longhua Pagoda was built in the 10th century.
This statue is a representation of the Eastern King of Protection for Buddhist territory in heaven and earth. He is holding a pipa, a four-stringed Chinese lute, and protecting all living creatures.
Barry and I had been invited by Dean Mao, the very friendly and jovial head of the SHNU Financial College, to eat lunch there at the temple which we knew would have vegetarian meals. We expected a bowl of humble, but tasty, noodles.
Laura, our terrific Shanghai Normal University contact, came too.
And two 20-year-old Italian visitors from Florence were part of our luncheon group.
Instead of humble noodles, which were available outside for a little more than a dollar, we got to have a spectacular vegetarian buffet with about 200 choices.
Even the fake meats and seafood, which aren’t usually very good, were flavorful and beautifully presented. For example the Japanese baked eel, in terms of look, texture, and taste seemed like genuine fine and fresh seafood. We were surprised and impressed–and had fun trying many dishes.
Although Dean Mao had to leave for a meeting, the rest of us stayed to talk–and continue eating, of course. We learned more about Laura and her family, and the Italian students told us about their concerns in getting future jobs.
As we were there chatting, a Chinese woman came and sat down at the end of our table. She said something, but I didn’t understand, and at first I thought that because the restaurant was crowded, she just needed a place to sit since the table with her group was too crowded. That wasn’t it.
She must have been hungry. She took Carra’s chopsticks that were on the table, wiped them off with a napkin, and gathering all our mainly empty plates in front of her, began eating all our leftovers! We continued talking to one another.
The woman was middle-aged and dressed O.K.; she was a little round, so she wasn’t starving, and she definitely knew how to take care of herself. When she was finished with our dishes, she got up without fanfare and left. However, a few minutes later, she was back. She had picked out her own dessert and sat to eat it too.
We think Buddha would have approved of her actions. And she is much smarter than the Chinese man we saw in McDonald’s on the Bund. He was clearing tables and eating the leftover food there; he did not look healthy.
It’s easy for us to have a segued view of China. Barry and I are surrounded by Chinese students who have families that can send them to university. Zhejiang Province is forested and has good farm land and economically strong cities like Hangzhou and Shanghai. Although we’ve seen humble dwellings and the no heat in public buildings south of the Yangtze River seems harsh to us, we haven’t really seen poverty. In fact, we’ve seen people who work very hard and are excited about their growing opportunities.
We have so much that it is easy to forget that many people in the world suffer; some suffer in ways we can not comprehend. That also seems a message from Buddha that we got on the anniversary of his Nirvana Day.
Aloha and zaì jiàn, Renée
Here in Shanghai, we are good. The Chinese young woman who helped us last June in the Shanghai Train Station when we were on our way to Beijing, came a recent weekend for a visit.
Although Vivi has been living and working (and struggling alone, she reports) about an hour-and-a-half from Shanghai for the last two years, this was the first time she has been anywhere in the city besides the train station.
So we got to introduce her to the Shanghai Metro, People’s Park, the wonderful Shanghai Museum (where we saw among many other things, an 8,000 year old ceramic pot!), the high-end shops of Nanjing Road, and the always colorful Bund.
The four floors of the Shanghai Museum contain galleries for ancient Chinese bronzes, sculptures, paintings, calligraphy, ceramics, furniture, coins, minority nationalities’ art, and more. Going there is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
Go to <www.shanghaimuseum.net> for more information.
After the museum closed at 5 pm, we wandered down the packed with people and shops Nanjing Road.
Then, of course, we walked on the Bund.
We stopped for a great dinner and wandered more. Before we headed to the Metro, we stopped at a McDonald’s on Nanjing. I had a tea, but then it must have been really strong since I didn’t go to sleep until about 2 am. I did get to finish reading a book.
On Sunday, we took Vivi to two lovely Shanghai parks, Kangjian Garden, where the first flowers are starting to bloom, and to Guilin Park, near our SNU campus.
Then we went to Guilin Park near SNU.
That afternoon, Vivi needed to catch the train back to her six-days-a-week job. She is 22, has a bachelor’s degree, two years of working experience, and her English is really good. Like the other Chinese students, she spent all her early years studying. She competed to get into college where she spent her freshman year in class 46 hours a week, and then she needed to study. She got an internship through a teacher’s recommendation, and has been working at PCV companies in marketing and sales (without a commission) for two years. She is outside the city and lonely. In her field now, this situation is likely not to change. Long-distance trucks pass in front of her factory all day long. She now wants to change careers to become a teacher. She will need to study on her own to pass the teacher’s test since she is too old to get into a university. She wants to move back to her village, which is close to Xian (where the Terra Cotta soldiers are), to be near her family and friends. Even if she passes the teacher’s test, she will probably be placed in a rural school far from her home, but her brother-in-law works for the government, so she has a good chance to end up near home.
Vivi is the youngest child of four (two are twins) . Her parents are farmers. They have been selling off their land to developers. They have one piece of property left. None of the children want to be farmers, but they will keep the one piece for the one son, so he will have property; however he is in the army. The farmers here, much like around the world, are giving up their land to developers and hope their children will do well in the new growing economy. Vivi says she knows that she must struggle.
We wish Vivi much luck and a good future.
With our wandering and being tour guides, Barry is perfecting his walking tour itinerary of Shanghai. It’s been raining and in the 30’s and 40’s, but perfect for walking as long as you have boots and an umbrella, which we do. Come join us.
Aloha and zaì jiàn, Renée