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Chinese Medicine is a Non-Smoking Area

Chinese medicine cigarettes

Photo via flickr.com/29069717@N02 under creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

In our ad-rich world, goodness can be commandeered to orchestrate a market trend. Here, salesmanship hijacks something of value to profit off something not just of lesser value but even a liability.

On the plus-side, trends can broaden appeal and increase adoption of valuable goods and services. But all too often, trends are fleeting and precursors to clichés.

This is why I’m sore when I see marketing gimmicks like Traditional Chinese Medicine cigarettes. They are currently trending in Beijing, where tobacco companies have added Chinese herbs to their products.

One cigarette brand has herbs that are traditionally used for digestion, while another contains caterpillar fungus. The fungus is another traditional Chinese herb (dong chong xia cao)—and another trend, but in the aphrodisiac niche along with snake wine.

There are plenty of other TCM gimmicks out there, but a tobacco product with Chinese medicine is an egregious pairing. It insidiously devalues the health benefits of this medical field. Just think of “Chinese medicine” printed on cigarette packs. …It introduces this health promoting system to the realm of soon-to-be kitschy.

I think consumers are smarter than that. But my point is that when seeking health options—even within a specialty like Chinese medicine—look for true value and beware of trends.

Carl Balingit is a former engineer who applies rational thought to the often subjective nature of traditional healing. He practices acupuncture in San Diego, CA.

He also prescribes Chinese herbal formulas. The herbs do not necessarily come from China.

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