Call for ban on ads for formula and tobacco

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, April 21, 2015
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China's top legislature yesterday began reviewing a draft amendment to the Advertisement Law that proposes a ban on baby formula and tobacco advertising.

"Dairy products, drinks and other food advertisements that claim to partly or completely substitute mother's milk shall be banned from mass media or public venues," says the draft.

The draft was submitted to the bimonthly legislative session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, which ends on Friday.

The proposal stipulates that advertisers, clients, agents and publishers that violate the rule could be fined up to 1 million yuan (US$163,260).

Many champion breastfeeding as the best source of nutrition for newborns, as it improves their immune systems and reduces the likelihood of obesity in adulthood. However, only 28 percent of infants younger than 6 months were exclusively breastfed in China in 2008, well below the global average of about 40 percent, according to the United Nations Children's Fund.

The government has introduced measures to revive the practice, such as encouraging businesses to have rooms for breastfeeding.

The State Council aims to raise the exclusive breast feeding rate to 50 percent by 2020, as outlined in its program for the development of women and children.

A tobacco advertising restriction is another notable change to the 21-year-old Advertisement Law.

An earlier revision submitted in December prohibited all forms of tobacco ads except for those posted and displayed in tobacco product shops and business-to-business advertising by tobacco producers to tobacco product sellers. It listed mass media and public venues where ads would be banned.

Yesterday's draft summarizes the provision in a sentence: "Tobacco advertisements are forbidden from transmission via mass media and in public places."

China has more than 300 million smokers and 740 million people exposed to second-hand smoke.

According to a Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention report last May, 6.9 percent of junior school students smoked and 48.5 percent of students between 13 and 15 had seen a tobacco advertisement the previous month. In a survey conducted among children aged five and six, 85 percent could identify at least one brand.

A ban has been a hot topic since China signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2003, which requires a comprehensive ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship."

However, a full ban has yet to be enacted in a country where tobacco is a major source of income for many farmers.

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