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BEIJING - A tobacco control expert on Thursday proposed a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertisements, as she believes they have penetrated charities and social media.
Yang Gonghuan, deputy head of the Chinese Association for Tobacco Control (CATC), a non-profit social organization, says tobacco companies have used charitable donations as a sales promotion strategy and turned to social media to circumvent China's Advertisement Law.
According to a monitoring campaign launched by CATC, Internet users reported 149 tobacco company sponsorships from January 1 to April 30 this year. Just over 82 percent of the sponsorships were for charity projects.
Donations have been channeled to poverty alleviation, natural disaster relief projects and the construction of schools, Internet users found.
CATC issued a statement on Wednesday calling for the Ministry of Civil Affairs to include a ban on tobacco-related charity donations when drafting the Charity Law.
"No government departments and social organizations should be allowed to accept tobacco company donations or sponsorships," the statement said.
CATC has also found that tobacco companies have been using social media websites, microblogs and WeChat, a popular instant messaging service, to advertise their products.
China's Advertisement Law, which was promulgated in 1994, bans tobacco advertisements from radio and TV programs, movies, newspapers and periodicals, as well as public places such as waiting rooms, theaters, meeting halls and sports venues.
Yang said it is imperative for China to amend its Advertisement Law and conform to the standards set in the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which was adopted in 2005, includes a comprehensive ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
China has more than 300 million smokers, official figures show. About 1.2 million Chinese die from tobacco-related illnesses every year.