World No Tobacco Day 2013 – Ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship to cut tobacco use and save lives

Comprehensive bans on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship can reduce tobacco use, cut smoking rates, and save lives. This is the message for this year’s World No Tobacco Day on 31 May.

"Banning all forms of tobacco marketing is one of the most cost-effective measures governments can take to reduce demand for tobacco products, and in doing so, protect the health of their populations," says Dr Michael O’Leary, WHO Representative in China.

Tobacco marketing – through advertisements, direct and indirect promotions, and tobacco company sponsorship – have been shown to increase tobacco consumption. Young people are especially vulnerable to tobacco marketing: evidence from around the world shows that exposure to marketing of tobacco products increases smoking initiation among young people, and even brief exposure can influence adolescents.

"Comprehensive bans on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship are particularly important for protecting young people from the health hazards of tobacco use," Dr O’Leary said.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) requires a comprehensive ban of all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. China ratified the WHO FCTC in 2005.

In China, the Advertising Law currently bans advertising of tobacco products in the mass media, including through radio, movies, TV, newspapers and magazines.

In February 2011, the State Administration of Radio, Film and TV announced strict controls on the portrayal of smoking in movies and TV serials.

However, outdoor advertising of tobacco products, including on billboards, is not banned. Point of sale and internet advertising of tobacco products is also allowed. ‘New media’ including micro-blogs are also beyond the scope of the existing Advertising Law. And direct advertising bans are not always complied with.

WHO welcomes the 2013 Tobacco Control Report issued this week by China CDC, which highlights the needs for reforms to existing tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship laws in China.

"China CDC’s work highlights the importance of strong policy action to clamp down on tobacco marketing, especially to protect China’s young people from the hazards of a lifetime of addiction to tobacco use," Dr O’Leary said.

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) conducted in China in 2010:

  • 19.6 per cent – or 1 in 5 adults – reported that they had noticed tobacco advertising, promotions or sponsorships through the media or in public places during the 30 days prior to the survey;
  • A higher proportion of young people (aged 15-24 years) – 27.5 per cent – reported noticing tobacco advertising, promotions or sponsorships in the 30 days prior to the survey.

The Government of China has committed to strengthening existing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship in the China National Tobacco Control Plan 2012-15.

The China National Tobacco Control Plan 2012-15 includes an ambitious target of reducing the adult smoking rate from 28.1 per cent in 2010, to 25 per cent in 2015: a relative reduction of approximately 10 per cent.

"Strong policies to reduce demand for tobacco, including through comprehensive bans on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, will help China to achieve the targets it has set itself for reducing smoking rates," Dr O’Leary said.

On World No Tobacco Day 2013, WHO is also pleased to honour Dr Huang Jiefu, former Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Health, with a WHO World No Tobacco Day Award.

"Both in his former capacity as Vice-Minister, and his Presidency of the Chinese Association for Tobacco Control, Dr Huang has been a leading voice for stronger tobacco control measures in China – and a worthy recipient of this award," Dr O’Leary said.

For more information, please contact

Helen Yu
Communications Officer, WHO in China
Tel: +86 10 65327191
E-mail: yuji@wpro.who.int

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