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Family deny Nobel laureate to star in cigarette advertisement


14:03, December 20, 2012

BEIJING, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- Family members of Mo Yan on Wednesday denied the Nobel Prize winner is to star in a cigarette advertisement.

Clarifying her father did not accept any commercial endorsement offer,Mo's daughter Guan Xiaoxiao posted on the twitter-like microblogging website of Tencent, "My father did not, does not, and will not endorse any tobacco products ever."

Guan Moxin, a brother of Mo, said he had no idea of any commercial endorsement.

Managers with the Beijing Genuine & Profound Culture Development Co., Ltd., Mo's publisher, also denied the rumor.

Their statements were made after an online post said Mo would be starring in a local pricey cigarette advertisement. The brand, named "Taishanfoguang," allegedly costs 20,120 yuan (3199 U.S. dollars) per carton, or 20 packs.

The post, released on Tuesday on a tobacco-themed forum, also included three photographs. One captured a luxurious cigarette carton with Mo's image and another with cigarettes and the names of the writer's works. The third picture was of Mo in a smoking scene with words "Mo Yan has three cigarettes respectively for Sweden, for his hometown Gaomi and one between his fingers to inspire writing."

Mo could not be reached for comment.

The cigarette brand is owned by China Tobacco Shandong Industrial Co., Ltd., and the company said there was no such advertisement.

"Our company did not develop any brand related to Mo Yan, or advertise any brands with the images of him," said Liu Aiguo, the company office director.

The firm issued a statement on its website later on Wednesday. It said it did not entrust any companies or individuals to design "Taishan (foguang) for a Mo Yan limited edition."

Despite the denial, tobacco control experts believe the company is actually behind the post and that its advertising purpose has been achieved.

Yang Gonghuan, Chinese Association for Tobacco Control deputy head, said the company may have turned to Mo for commercial endorsement but was rejected.

"The company just released the actually-failed endorsement information to make their products known making use of Mo, a household name after he won the Nobel Prize," said Yang.

Although tobacco advertising is banned in China, tobacco companies have used obscure ways to make their products known, such as donating money to schools and sponsoring health research, Yang said.

China signed the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2003, made effective from January 2006.

Yang urged the government to better implement the framework and forbid tobacco companies' advertising in such ways.

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