CHINA> Regional
Calls to ban latest cigarette poster ads
Updated: 2009-01-19 07:34

SHANGHAI: Lawmakers in Shanghai are moving to ban billboards recently put up by major cigarette brand "Chung Hua" that covertly advertise smoking by urging people to "Love China".

The cigarette company's advertisements feature a Ai Wo Chung Hua (Love China) slogan emblazoned on bright red billboards with a picture of Beijing's landmark Tian'anmen Gate. "Chung Hua" can mean China in Chinese.

The billboards also include health notices that read "Smoking can damage your health".

"The slogan 'Love China' is good, but not when producers put 'Smoking can damage your health' beside it," said Li Ming, a deputy to the ongoing Shanghai People's Congress.

"All advertising related to tobacco or tobacco companies must be banned in line with the law," said Li, who is also vice-head of the Shanghai Lawyers Association.

Wu Zhenwei, a congress deputy from the Shanghai Administration of Work Safety, has submitted to the congress a motion to decide whether "Love China (Chung Hua)" is tobacco advertising.

The Shanghai Tobacco (Group) Corporation, the brand's producer, has said the slogan promotes patriotism and was therefore a public service campaign. The company could not be reached for comment yesterday.

During the Beijing Olympics last year, the Shanghai government abolished all the tobacco billboards, including "Love China", but the advertising reappeared after the Games, said an official of the Shanghai Health Education Institute.

Shanghai should take initiatives in tobacco control as it would host the World Expo in 2010, officials have said.