Fighting tobacco is tough, gruelling work requiring faith ind one‘s ideals( China Post )
Not that the head of the John Tung Foundation’s (董氏基金會) tobacco control division is tight-lipped. On the contrary, over two decades of experience have given the social work graduate-turned anti-smoking campaigner the ability to speak in rapid-fire lines filled with statistics and anecdotes. It is as if an Aaron Sorkin (writer of “The West Wing” and “The Social Network”) character has come to life.
Although Lin didn’t touch on much of her personal story in her interview with The China Post, one gets the sense that this is because she has so dedicated herself to her cause that it has become the center of her life.
Her low key attitude might also reflect the discreet nature of the foundation’s founder. The Chinese name of the foundation is simply “Tung’s Foundation.” As a result, while the foundation is one of the most famous nongovernmental organizations (NGO) in Taiwan, John Tung (董之英) is not a household name. “A lot of people address me as ’Ms. Tung from the John Tung Foundation’ when they call,” Lin joked.
The organization was founded in 1984 using the US$2.5 million (approximately NT$73 million) that John Tung, a Hong Kong businessman, proposed to give to Dr. David Yen (嚴道) as a token of his gratitude for Yen helping Tung sort out a legal dispute. Instead of pocketing the money, Yen suggested that Tung establish an organization to promote respect for life and health awareness.
The foundation primarily consists of three teams working in the fields of tobacco control, mental health and nutrition. While the tobacco control division is perhaps the NGO’s most famous arm, it is in fact the smallest and least revenue-making of the three.
“Since many celebrities have joined our widely reported anti-smoking campaigns, people often get the wrong idea that the tobacco control team sits on a mountain of money. The truth is that the celebrities volunteer to help us while Taiwanese media organizations are kind enough to run our campaigns free of charge,” Lin said.