China / Society

New law 'should ban' tobacco sponsorship

By Shan Juan (China Daily) Updated: 2015-11-06 07:51

Anti-tobacco activists called on legislators to plug loopholes for tobacco sponsorship in the draft of China's first-ever charity law, which just finished its first reading.

The draft stipulates that organizations or individuals must not promote tobacco products, manufacturers or sales outlets via charitable donations.

A draft usually goes through three reviews to become law.

Legal specialists said tobacco companies could circumvent the law, particularly through sponsorship of major events and education courses.

"Tobacco products cause many diseases, such as cardiovascular conditions and lung cancer, which have nothing to do with charity. They should be banned from any charitable causes," said Xu Zhengzhong, a professor of economy at the Chinese Academy of Governance.

A recent investigation by the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control found that education and poverty relief had been major fields for sponsorship from the tobacco industry in the past three years.

Wu Yiqun, deputy director of the ThinkTank Research Center for Health Development, a nongovernmental organization in Beijing, suggested the law clearly ban tobacco producers from title sponsorship and related press coverage.

She also said that tobacco companies must not be honored by the government at any level, which has frequently happened after the industry donated to major disaster relief efforts.

Huang Jinrong, a law professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, said the coming law should clearly ban these activities, leaving no loopholes for the tobacco industry.

China has more than 300 million smokers and more than 1 million people die from smoking-related diseases each year.

But the fact that China still has a State monopoly over tobacco products makes tobacco control complicated.

In 2005, China's top legislature ratified the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Article 13 of the convention calls for a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

As a member, "that is part of China's legal system as well and the charitable law should be in line with that", Huang noted.

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