China to introduce tough laws to limit tobacco, milk ads

China to introduce tough laws to limit tobacco, milk ads

Chinese lawmakers are considering introducing tough new restrictions on advertisements for tobacco and baby milk formula powders.

A draft revision to the 20-year-old Advertisements Law was discussed at the bimonthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Tuesday, and it will be put to a vote on Friday. It is likely to be ratified.

The draft says no tobacco advertisements should be published in the mass media or displayed in public places.

The revised provision is a compromise between the views of lawmakers who advocate a complete ban on tobacco advertisements, and those who support the introduction of further restrictions.

The second group points out that tobacco production is a major source of income for farmers in areas that are not ideal for agriculture.

Peng Sen, a member of the NPC's financial and economics committee, said public health should come first.

Peng rejected the claim that the incomes of some farmers are linked to tobacco advertising.

Standing Committee vice-chairwoman Yan Junqi and other lawmakers gave their full support to a complete ban on tobacco advertising during the discussion.

China signed the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2003.

Some NPC deputies, quoting from the convention, said a "comprehensive ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship" should be written into the law.

The draft proposes a ban on baby milk formula advertisements that claim powders are as beneficial as breast-feeding.

"Dairy products, drinks and other food advertisements that claim to partly or completely substitute mother's milk are prohibited in mass media or public places," the draft says.

The provision echoes the State Council's call for an increase in the proportion of mothers who breast-feed exclusively to 50 per cent by 2020, as outlined in its programme for the development of women and children. The proposal received general support from lawmakers.

The draft takes a tough line on advertisements for medicine and healthcare products.

It says all medicine advertising should mention any side effects, and healthcare companies should not claim their products can be used instead of medicine.

The proposal says advertisers, clients, agents and publishers who violate the rule can be fined up to 1 million yuan (S$217,000).

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