China to clampdown on tobacco advertising

The advertising industry will face tougher restrictions and punishments after China's parliament passed an amendment to the Advertisement Law.

This is the first amendment since the law was enacted in 1994. The new law will come into effect on 1 September.

According to the new law, tobacco advertising will be forbidden on mass media, in public places, public vehicles and outdoors with the aim of preventing minors from starting smoking.

Advertisements for other products or services should not include the brand, trademark, packaging, design and similar contents of any tobacco products.

A similar amendment bans advertising of dairy products, drinks and foods that claim to be a substitute for breast milk.

Advertisements for drugs, medical equipment and healthcare products must not use endorsements to testify the effects or safety of products. Mass media can no longer run indirect medical ads or advertorials in the name of disseminating healthcare knowledge.

The revised law also increases punishments for false advertising, significantly raising the cost of breaking the law, with endorsers to be held responsible for any false claims.

Minors under the age of 10 will not be allowed to endorse anything. Advertisers, clients, agents and publishers who violate the rules could face up to 1 million RMB (US$163,000) in fines.

All advertising in schools and kindergartens is prohibited as well as direct or indirect ads on educational materials such as textbooks, stationery, uniforms and school buses.

The revised law also bans the use of the army's flag, emblem and song in advertisements, in addition to the national flag, emblem and anthem.

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