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Chinese Primary Schools Named for Big Tobacco Sponsors

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Familiar with the Sichuan Tobacco Hope Primary School?

State-owned China Tobacco -- the largest tobacco company in the world -- built it after a 2008 earthquake as part of the Hope project, described by the Sydney Morning Herald as "a charity that has rolled out schools in the countryside for the poor."

Along with naming rights, China Tobacco has also been given license to install educational sayings on the school grounds. For example, this says: "Talent comes from hard work -- Tobacco helps you become talented."

With 6 million smokers under the age of 15, or 6.3% of China's entire youth population, it shouldn't take much to reel in the other 92.7%. After all, according to the Herald, there are more than 100 primary schools sponsored by tobacco companies.

''It is not just primary schools, they also fund secondary schools and universities," Wu Yiqun of the Think Tank Research Centre for Health Development tells the paper. "But it is difficult to count them, because the Ministry of Education would not help us. We know there are definitely more than 100 primary schools though.''

But wait -- there's more!

"Inside the schools, they often have branded uniforms and distribute sweets shaped liked cigarettes," Wu tells the Want China Times. "Vendors near the school gates usually sell cigarettes one-by-one, rather than in packets."

Last year, China Hush offered a handy list of Chinese elementary schools named after tobacco companies. A few names:

Zhongnanhai Heart Elementary school

Liaoning Tobacco Trade Hope Elementary School

Zunyi Tobacco Hope Elementary School

Panhe Tobacco Elementary School

And, of course, the venerable 四川烟草小学 (Sichuan Tobacco Elementary School).

The reaction from parents?

''The parents are actually very supportive of the tobacco companies,'' Wu tells the Herald. ''They think they are giving something back to society, but they are just using charity as a front.''

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