In 2008, a 7.9-magnitude earthquake devastated China's western Sichuan province, killing about 90,000 people, including children trapped in shoddily built schools. Amid the despair, China's tobacco monopoly saw an opening for charity – and brand-building.
China National Tobacco Corp. offered funding for new schools in distressed areas, naming them after cigarette brands like China Pride. The slogan "Talent Comes from Hard Work -- Tobacco Nurtures Talent" was painted on the wall at the Sichuan Tobacco Hope Elementary School.
After that particular school became a flash point, the slogan was removed and the school's name changed. But more than 100 schools across China are still sponsored by the tobacco industry, said Wu Yiqun, deputy director of the Think Tank Research Center for Health Development, who has campaigned against such sponsorships.
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