China's ban on condom advertisement should be lifted, said a report by Beijing-based Science and Technology Daily Saturday.
They do not have to be brand names to compete for bigger market share because Chinese condom producers are not allowed to advertise their products, said the report.
Low-priced products seem to be more competitive. However, a sampling survey done by the State General Administration of Quality Supervision and Quarantine shows that only 70 percent of the examined condoms are quality products, said the report.
In China, the number of people who suffer from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) increases by 20 to 30 percent annually, said the report, blaming low use rate and poor quality of condoms.
Condom ads first appeared on 80 buses in south China's Guangzhou City in 1998, when Jissbon, one of the world's largest producers of reproductive and hygiene products, entered the Chinese market.
The practice was stopped in 1989 according to regulations promulgated by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce which strictly prohibit advertising any products meant to cure sexual dysfunction or help improve people's sex life.
"To encourage the use of condoms does not mean we should give less attention to moral education," said Professor Fan Minsheng of Shanghai College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, quoted by the newspaper.
Fan said that the concepts of sexual morality and birth control should be both emphasized. Currently it is more important for people to learn how to prevent STDs and HIV/AIDS.
The mass media can serve as channel of information on sex education. "The ban on condom ads in some ways blocks the channel," Fan said.
China now has more than 300 condom producers with a total output value of over one billion yuan (US$ 120 million). The report predicted the market potential could be as much as 10 billion yuan (US$ 1.2 billion).
"Advertising is not the goal but a method," said Wang Xuehai, general manager of Jissbon (Wuhan) Sanitary Product Co., Ltd. "Advertisement promotes not only sales of products but also advancement of society."
On November 28, 1999, China Central Television, the national television station, aired a public advertisement for condoms to promote their role in preventing unwanted pregnancy and HIV/AIDS.
The ad made its point through a cartoon condom that fights off attacks of HIV/AIDS and STDs while the subtitles read "Avoiding Unwanted Pregnancy" and "Use a Condom, No Trouble."
The cartoon-style ad disappeared a few days later.
Condom vending machines have been installed on some streets in urban Beijing and on campuses such as Qinghua University.
Condom ads are seen in countries such as France, Russia, and the United States.
(People's Daily December 30, 2001)