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Regulation needed for cigarette packaging

Updated: 2014-03-03 17:37
By Zhang Zhouxiang (

Recent reports show a certain cigarette producer has different packaging for products to be sold at home and abroad: while the former is covered by beautiful scenery, the latter features a darkened lung as a warning. The Beijing Consumer Association said they might instigate public interest litigation against the manufacturer. That’s a good move, but a more effective way lies in introducing stricter rules, said a column in Guangzhou Daily. Excerpts:

The Beijing Consumer Association might have good intentions. Lack of warning signs is an important factor of slow efforts to control cigarette use in China. According to a survey by the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 87 percent of respondents said images of black lungs or critical lip sores might prompt them to quit smoking.

However, the hope of the association winning the case is not as large as might be expected. Browse the domestic regulations on cigarette packaging and you will find that the domestic package has broken none of its clauses.

In comparison, many foreign countries have higher requirements for cigarette packaging. About 30 countries require that warning signs should cover at least 50 percent of the surface of cigarette packages, a requirement that does not exist in China’s regulations.

So the key to change cigarettes’ packaging lies not in the court, but in the legislative bodies, as only with higher standards would cigarette producers cover their packaging with more warnings.