China to ban tobacco advertising by 2011: report
BEIJING (Reuters) - China, the world's biggest cigarette producer and consumer, will ban all tobacco advertising by 2011, Chinese media reported on Tuesday.
Chinese are the world's most enthusiastic smokers, with a growing market of more than 300 million making it a magnet for multinational cigarette companies and focus of international health concern.
"China should take the issue of tobacco advertising seriously," the Beijing News quoted Xu Guihua, the deputy head of the China Tobacco Control Association, as saying.
"China is quite backward when it comes to controlling the use of tobacco, and the biggest problem is the lack of national regulations to ban smoking."
China has banned smoking on public transport, but it is still allowed in many public places, such as restaurants, and it is not uncommon to see people smoking even in hospitals.
The country needs to rein in smoking or the habit could end up killing 2.2 million Chinese a year by 2020, the World Health Organization said in May.
Chinese cigarettes are also among the cheapest in the world and a packet can cost as little as $0.08.
A senior official from China's State Tobacco Monopoly warned earlier this year that smoking was so pervasive in China that efforts to curb it would upset social stability.