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China’s Top Legislature Reviews Ban on Ads for Formula, Tobacco

The National People’s Congress Standing Committee has started reviewing a draft amendment to the Advertisement Law proposing a ban on baby formula and tobacco advertising, an article in said.

According to the draft, advertisements on drinks, dairy products, and other food advertisements that partly or completely substitute mother’s milk shall be banned from mass media or public venues.

Based on the proposal, advertisers, clients, agents and publishers who violate the rule may be penalized up to 1 million yuan ($163,260).

The United Nations Children’s Fund reported that only 28 percent of infants younger than six months were breastfed in China in 2008, lower than the global average of 40 percent.

The report said that the government promotes breastfeeding as the best source of nutrition for newborns, improving their immune systems and reducing the chance of obesity in adulthood.

Another remarkable change to the 21-year-old Advertisement Law is the restriction imposed on tobacco advertising.

The report said that a revision submitted in December prohibited all forms of tobacco ads except for those in tobacco product shops and advertising done by business-to-business such as tobacco producers to tobacco product sellers. The proposal also listed mass media and public venues where ads would be banned.

The report mentioned a study by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in May last year which showed that 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. Among children aged five and six, 85 percent could identify at least one brand, according to a survey.

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

The report added that a full ban on tobacco has yet to be enacted in China where it is a major source of income for countless farmers.

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