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Ban cigarette ads in all forms

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-01 07:05

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress is debating whether the Advertisement Law should be amended to ban all cigarette ads. Although the existing law bans all forms of cigarette ads in the media, it is not all pervasive because placards and posters promoting cigarettes can be displayed in restaurants and other public places. Some NPC Standing Committee members have proposed that the law be amended to ban all forms of cigarette ads, both indoors and outdoors.

Despite being scientifically proved that smoking is harmful to people's health, the number of smokers has been increasing in the country, with young people accounting for 12 percent of the total number of about 300 million smokers. Worse, more than 70 percent of non-smokers are exposed to second-hand smoke, which means Chinese smokers are either ignorant of or indifferent to the harm they inflict on other people.

Banning all forms of cigarette ads will help make smokers aware of the harm their smoking causes indirectly to the health of other people and thus save more people from the harms of second-hand smoke. Better still, it will help create an atmosphere where non-smokers can tell smokers not to smoke anywhere near them.

There is a lot of room for improvement in making the ban on smoking in public places a reality. The health-risk warnings on cigarette packs are hardly legible because they are in very small Chinese characters and, unlike in other countries, they are not accompanied by repulsive visuals. Cigarette makers, for obvious reasons, are opposed to printing such visuals along with bigger warning signs on the packs. It is likely that some government departments too are opposed to the idea because the tobacco industry is a big source of State revenue.

Making the ban on smoking and cigarette ads a success seems an uphill task for a signatory country to the World Health Organization's convention on tobacco control. The tobacco industry may be generating lots of revenue but the consequential medical cost (both in terms of public health and money) will be much higher in the long term. On the other hand, banning smoking and all cigarette ads may reduce revenue in the short term, but in the long run it will save a lot of problems for the government.

Ban cigarette ads in all forms Ban cigarette ads in all forms
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