Who calls for total ban on tobacco advertising
Updated: 2014-10-10 07:51
By Wang Xiaodong(China Daily)
The World Health Organization called for a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising in China on Thursday to reduce the number of smokers.
Proposed amendments to the Advertising Law are expected to be reviewed soon by the country's top legislature.
"Advertising bans are critically important in protecting the health of Chinese people, especially Chinese youth," said Bernhard Schwartlander,WHO's representative in China.
"Evidence from other markets shows that anything short of a total ban simply will not work. Legislators must act decisively and courageously by enacting a comprehensive ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship."
Schwartlander's comments followed a submission by the WHO to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.
The top legislature is considering proposed changes to the Advertising Law. It published the draft amendments online in August and asked the public for suggestions, which had to be submitted by Sept 30.
The NPC is expected to give the draft a second reading by the end of October, according to the WHO's China Office.
Draft amendments usually have to be reviewed by the NPC at least three times before they become law.
The WHO said China has taken some important steps toward strengthening restrictions on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship in recent years, citing the announcement of strict controls on the portrayal of smoking in movies and TV serials in 2011 as an example.
However, much more needs to be done for China to achieve a comprehensive ban on all forms of tobacco advertising as required by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, said Angela Pratt of WHO China. China ratified the convention in 2005.
The country is the world's largest producer and consumer of tobacco products, with more than 300 million smokers. Smoking causes a million deaths a year in China, and the number could increase to 3 million by 2050 if the level of tobacco use is not reduced, according to the WHO.
A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health that was published last year found that 86 percent of Chinese children 5 or 6 years old could recognize at least one cigarette brand logo. Of the 396 children included in the study, 22 percent said they expect to be smokers when they grow up.
"The findings of the study demonstrate that much more effective measures are required to restrict the reach of tobacco marketing to children in China," according to the WHO's submission to the NPC.
The organization's recommendations include banning tobacco advertising on all potential advertising mediums and in all public places.
Yang Jie, a researcher at the Tobacco Control Office of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the draft amendments would impose new restrictions on tobacco advertising.
"For example, the Internet is included as a medium to which restrictions would apply," he said.
But further restrictions are needed to secure a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, Yang said, including banning any promotions and sponsorships involving tobacco.
"The changes may also include banning decorative displays at sales points, as beautifully arranged cigarette products may be very appealing to minors and encourage them to buy cigarettes," he said.
(China Daily 10/10/2014 page5)