China / Society

Chinese lawmakers urge full tobacco ad ban

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-08-31 11:01

Chinese lawmakers urge full tobacco ad ban

An online tobacco advertisement plays up the safety and enjoyment of smoking, Aug 27, 2014. [Photo/IC]

BEIJING - Chinese lawmakers called for a complete ban on tobacco advertisements when discussing an Advertisement Law bill on Saturday.

Members of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) discussed the draft amendment to the 20-year-old Advertisement Law at the ongoing bi-monthly legislative session.

A number of lawmakers called for the law to ban tobacco advertisements in all forms and venues.

Tobacco companies will still take the advantage of loopholes if the law does not clearly impose a complete ban, said He Yicheng, an NPC Standing Committee member, at the panel discussion.

The bill, tabled for its first reading on Monday, proposes banning tobacco advertisements directly or indirectly transmitted via radio, film, television, newspaper, magazines, books, audio and visual products, electronic publications, telecommunication networks and the Internet.

It is also more specific on public venues where tobacco ads would be banned, such as libraries, cultural centers, museums, parks, waiting rooms, theaters, meeting halls, sports auditoriums, and the vicinities of hospitals and schools, as well as outdoor.

"We don't need to get to the trouble of listing media and venues that are closed to tobacco ads. It will be clearer to just adopt a complete ban," He said.

In an interview with Xinhua, Wu Yiqun, vice-director of Think Tank Research Center for Health Development, a non-governmental anti-smoking group, pointed out a major oversight in the bill.

"What about children's palaces [government-funded recreation centers for minors in China]? They are not listed by the bill. Are tobacco ads okay for these venues?" Wu said.

Also, the bill does not regulate tobacco firms sponsoring sport and other public events as well as smoking scenes in films and TV shows, she said.

As the world's largest tobacco maker and consumer, China has more than 300 million smokers and another 740 million people exposed to second-hand smoke each year.

According to a report released by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in May, 6.9 percent of Chinese junior school students smoke and 48.5 percent of students between 13 and 15 years old had seen a tobacco advertisement in the previous month. In a survey conducted among children aged five and six, 85 percent could identify at least one cigarette brand.

In 2003, China signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. It requires signatories to "comprehensively ban all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship."

In an email reply to Xinhua, Dr. Bernhard Schwartlander, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in China, said the WHO welcomes strengthening of existing restrictions on tobacco advertising in China and commends both the State Council and the NPC for its attention to and efforts in this field.

"However, the proposed amendments to the Advertising Law still fall short of what is required by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control," he said. "We recommend additional amendments to the Advertising Law to ensure that the final law includes a complete, enforceable ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship in China."

Lawmakers also raised questions about junk mails and text messages.

The bill adds a provision forbidding any organization and individual from posting advertisements on citizen's residences and vehicles, as well as transmitting them without consent through land line phones, mobile phones and e-mails.

Han Xiaowu, another NPC Standing Committee member, argued that the provision is too general and abstract.

"Junk mails and text messages have become a headache for many people. We will not only need a ban but also how to impose the ban," he said.

If the law amendment does not have enough room for detailed provisions, it should at least require the administration to work out detailed rules, Han suggested.

Hot Topics