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Shanghai lawmakers call for ban of "Love China" tobacco ads
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08:36, January 19, 2009

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Lawmakers in Shanghai are moving to ban billboards urging people to "Love China", which were put up to promote one of the country's major cigarette brands, Chung Hua. "Chung Hua" in Chinese also means China.

The slogan of four Chinese characters "Ai Wo Chung Hua" (Love China) is emblazoned on bright red billboards featuring a picture of Beijing's landmark Tian'anmen Gate at the entrance to the former Imperial Palace. The billboards also have the Chinese for "Smoking can damage your health".

"The slogan 'Love China' is good, but when producers put 'Smoking can damage your health' beside it, the slogan becomes an advertisement," said Li Ming, a deputy to the on-going Shanghai People's Congress.

"All advertising related to tobacco or tobacco companies must be banned in line with the law," said Li, who is also vice head of Shanghai Lawyers Association.

Such covert advertising is also used for other tobacco brands, including Huangshan, produced by Bengbu Cigarette Factory, and Baisha, made by Baisha Group, Li said.

Wu Zhenwei, a congress deputy from the Shanghai Administration of Work Safety, has submitted to the congress a motion to decide whether "Love China (Chung Hua)" is tobacco advertising.

The Shanghai Tobacco (Group) Corporation (STC), producer of the Chunghua brand, said the slogan promoted patriotism and was therefore a public service campaign, said Wu.

Attempts to contact the company for comment on Sunday went unanswered.

During the Beijing Olympics, the Shanghai government abolished all the tobacco billboards, including "Love China", but the advertising reappeared after the Games, said an official of Shanghai Health Education Institute.

Shanghai should take initiatives in tobacco control as it would host the World Expo in 2010, they said.

The world's largest tobacco producer and consumer, China signed in 2003the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which commits it to banning all types of tobacco advertising and promotion by 2011.

At present, smoking is banned in cinemas, libraries and conference rooms. Beijing banned smoking in most public places, including hotels, schools, cinemas, and offices in May last year. Smoking in the city's taxis is also banned.


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