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April 28th, 2015:

Amended China law curbs tobacco ads in land of smokers

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s parliament has passed legislation that restricts tobacco advertising in public, strengthening efforts to curb smoking in a country where more than a billion people are smokers or exposed to second-hand smoke.

A revised Advertisement Law approved on Friday by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislative body, bans tobacco ads in the mass media, in public places, on public vehicles and outdoors, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Smoking is a major health crisis for China. More than 300 million people have made cigarettes part of the social fabric, and Xinhua said another 740 million people are exposed to second-hand smoke.

Last year, a health official said China was considering raising cigarette prices and taxes. The State Council, China’s cabinet, has issued a draft regulation to ban indoor smoking, limit outdoor smoking and end tobacco advertising.

The amended law also outlaws tobacco products, their packaging and trademarks in advertisements for other products or services, Xinhua reported.

China’s powerful State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, run by the younger brother of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang until February, had lobbied intensely to water down proposed restrictions on advertising, sources told Reuters in September.

The tobacco monopoly wields extraordinary power because it provides an estimated 7-10 percent of government revenue – as much as 816 billion yuan ($131.8 billion) in 2013.

Other changes were also made to the Advertisement Law.

One bans advertising for dairy products, drinks and foods that claim to be a substitute for breast milk, Xinhua reported. Another stipulates that advertisements for drugs, medical equipment and healthcare products cannot use endorsements testifying to the effects or safety of the products.

The revised law increases punishments for false advertising, bars children under the age of 10 from endorsing any products and prohibits advertising in schools or on educational materials, Xinhua reported.

The national flag, emblem and anthem, as well as the army’s flag, emblem and song, are made off limits to advertisers, it said.

Indonesia: Cigarette warnings covered by excise bands: Survey

The Indonesian Consumer Foundation (YLKI) has revealed that the pictorial health warnings on more than half of the tobacco product packages it surveyed were covered by excise bands.

“We suspect that the covering was done intentionally to blur the warning on health damage caused by smoking,” said Tulus Abadi of the YLKI at the launch of the survey of pictorial health warning implementation.

Government Regulation (PP) No. 109/2012 on tobacco control stipulates that cigarette packages circulating on the market must bear a pictorial warning that must not be covered by anything, including excise bands.

The survey, conducted from February to March, took samples of tobacco products, including products from PT Philip Morris International, PT British American Tobacco.

PT BAT had the lowest compliance with the regulation as all of the pictorial warnings on the sampled products were covered by excise bands. Local brands led in compliance with 65 percent.