China’s revised advertisement law, which came into force on Tuesday, bans tobacco product advertising in the mass media, in public places, and on public transportation.
The new law, which was approved by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in April and which targets also the way in which products other than tobacco are advertised, prohibits advertisements that target minors and specifically bans tobacco advertising in schools and educational materials.
It bans also the use of tobacco brand logos and trademarks in support of other products and services.
Two months before the ban was due to come into force, dire warnings were issued about how tobacco advertising in China was still visible in nearly half of all tobacco stores.
At that time, the China Daily said the fact that many retail outlets were still displaying tobacco advertising pointed to the challenge that could await enforcement of the comprehensive tobacco advertising ban.
But the implementation of anti-tobacco regulations in China is regularly foreshadowed by warnings that the rules will be ignored because they will not be enforced.
And on this occasion, warnings were being issued even as the regulations came into force, according to a Reuters report in the Independent newspaper.
Anti-smoking advocates were said to have praised the changes, but warned that some parts of the law could be abused by the country’s powerful tobacco monopoly, which they said had pushed back against a series of ambitious anti-smoking measures.
“They can’t stop it, but they can create a headache,” said Bernhard Schwartlander, the World Health Organization’s representative in China, referring to the country’s anti-smoking campaign.
“The problem is the language that has been chosen; the interpretation of those words sometimes opens room for discussion, which the tobacco industry will try to use,” he added.