WHO calls for ban on all tobacco advertisements in China

The WHO has called on China, the world's largest producer and consumer of tobacco, to ban all advertisements featuring the product's consumption in the amended Advertising Law.

PTI| Last Updated: Oct 09, 2014, 22:00 PM IST

Beijing: The WHO has called on China, the world's largest producer and consumer of tobacco, to ban all advertisements featuring the product's consumption in the amended Advertising Law.

Approximately one million deaths every year are caused by tobacco smoking in the country and the number of tobacco- related deaths will increase to three million by 2050 if prevalence of tobacco use in China is not reduced, the World Health Organisation said.

WHO's Representative in China Dr Bernhard Schwartlander said his office had submitted a paper on proposed amendments to China's Advertising Law related to tobacco advertising, arguing comprehensive advertising, promotion and sponsorship ban that could lead to reductions in the numbers of people starting and continuing smoking.

With more than 300 million smokers, China is the world's largest producer and consumer of tobacco products.

Members of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) discussed the draft amendment in late August, and requested a response the following month.

Although the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which China ratified in 2005, requires signatories to ban all forms of tobacco advertising and promotion, some advertising mediums and some public places, such as outdoor billboards, are exempted from the current draft.

The WHO also wants greater penalties to ensure the provisions are "effective, proportionate and dissuasive".

A study by Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health published last year found that 86 percent of Chinese children aged 5 or 6 could recognise at least one cigarette brand logo.

"Advertising bans are critically important in protecting the health of Chinese people, especially Chinese youth, and evidence from other markets shows that anything short of a total ban simply will not work," Schwartlander said.