Want China Times, Xinhua 2014-03-31
|A man smokes in Changsha, Hunan province. (Photo/Xinhua)|
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday that China needs a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising in order to reduce the number of smokers.
Bernhard Schwartlander, WHO representative in China, made the comments in a statement following a submission by the WHO to the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council, China's Cabinet, this week.
The office had invited comments from the public on proposed changes to China's Advertising Law.
Schwartlander welcomed China's move to tighten restrictions on tobacco advertising. "Banning all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship is one of the most cost-effective tobacco control measures any government can take. Cutting demand for tobacco products has a direct and measurable impact on public health," he explained.
"Comprehensive bans on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship are therefore critical for protecting young people from a lifetime of addiction to the hazards of tobacco use."
The move is especially important in China, where more than half (52.7%) of smokers aged 20-34 years started smoking daily before the age of 20, according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey China 2010 Country Report.
In its submission, the WHO highlighted the requirements of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which calls for a ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship within five years of the treaty coming into force for each party.
China ratified the WHO FCTC in 2005, and the treaty came into legal force in China in 2006.
However, there are currently only restrictions on some, but not all, tobacco advertising in China. The proposed changes to the Advertising Law would strengthen the existing restrictions, but advertising would still be allowed in some circumstances.
"This means the proposed amendments do not meet the requirements of the WHO FCTC," pointed out Schwartlander.