Smoke-free TV, movie screens sought

By Xie Chuanjiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-10-06 08:46

The broadcasting watchdog wants to clear television and movie screens of the sight of people smoking.

The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), in a statement, criticized film and television producers for their indifference to non-smokers.

"Inspection organs at all levels should pay more attention to the excessive use of smoking scenes in movies and teleplays," the statement said, according to a report in the Beijing News on Friday.

However, since there are no national laws banning tobacco, "there is no legal basis for completely prohibiting smoking scenes in teleplays and movies", the announcement said.

The statement was released on Wednesday during a seminar on China's efforts to meet its obligations to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Data suggests that nearly 63 percent of the domestically made television programs shown in 2004 and 2005 included smoking scenes. Each program had an average of 30 such scenes.

In the three and a half years since China signed the WHO convention, both the production and sale of cigarettes have increased by 20 percent.

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Fang Jiqian, a public-health professor at the Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University, said: "Exposure to too many smoking scenes will have an adverse impact on the audience, especially young people."

"The government should ban smoking in more public places to protect non-smokers," the paper quoted Fang as saying.

In late August, Xu Guihua, vice-president of the China Tobacco Control Association, said the authorities would ban tobacco promotions by January 2011.

Yang Jie, deputy head of State Tobacco Control Office, has called for national-level tobacco-control legislation.

The State Tobacco Monopoly Administration estimates that China is home to more than 350 million smokers, about 26 percent of the country's population and a third of the world's smoking population.

Each year, about 1 million Chinese die of smoking-related diseases.

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