24 October 2016
In China, smoking is a widespread habit that will be hard to eradicate. Photo: NYT
In China, smoking is a widespread habit that will be hard to eradicate. Photo: NYT

China imposes broad curbs on tobacco ads

China enforced sweeping new rules Tuesday to restrict tobacco advertisements, in its latest effort to rein in a widespread habit that has caused a massive health crisis, Reuters reported.

More than 300 million people have made smoking part of the social fabric in the world’s biggest producer and consumer of tobacco.

A further 740 million are exposed to second-hand smoke, state media have reported.

Revisions to the national advertisement law, passed in April, ban tobacco advertisements in mass media, public places, on public vehicles and outdoors.

China’s powerful State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, headed until February this year by the younger brother of Premier Li Keqiang, had lobbied intensely to water down proposed restrictions on advertising, the report said.

The state tobacco monopoly, which controls the bulk of the domestic market, wields extraordinary power because it provides an estimated 7-10 percent of the government’s revenue, or as much as 816 billion yuan (US$127 billion) in 2013.

But many big cities, including Beijing, already have tougher curbs on smoking than rural areas, and billboards promoting cigarettes are seldom seen in the capital.

The revised advertising law also includes harsher punishments for false advertising, prohibits advertising in schools or on educational materials, and bars endorsements of products by children younger than 10.

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