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Support to print warning signs on cigarette packs

Popularity 6Viewed 3798 times 2016-4-5 10:19 |System category:News| printing, official, warning, culture, public


In response to public appeals of printing warning signs like blackened teeth and lungs and skeletons on cigarettes packs, one top official from China Tobacco Monopoly Administration, said during the Two Sessions that printing these signs does not fit in with China’s traditional culture, and there is no such plan to be introduced for the time being. 

Repudiating the idea of printing warning signs on cigarettes packs with cultural concerns is not a refreshing rhetoric by tobacco management authority. Early in 2008 when signing the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control presided by World Health Organisation to oblige signatories to print warning signs, Chinese representatives also said it is a matter of traditional culture and national feelings, hence China didn’t ratify compulsary articles regarding printing warning signs. 

The tobacco authority has repeatedly resorted to traditional culture as their infallible excuse to refuse warning signs. However, not only is this rhetoric unpersuasive, but also bewildering: how can printing warning signs has bearing on our traditional culture and will hurt our national feelings? The answer is that the tobacco department is reluctant to see its own cheesed moved, so it introduces a good-looking excuse to disguise its reluctance in anti-smoking. 

It is known that tobacco, imported from Latin American in Ming Dynasty, is not our indigenous staple, so controlling tobacco usage is impossible to be defined as unfitting with our traditional culture. More importantly, there is hardly any content from our traditional culture supporting tobacco usage, instead there are Confucian values in favour of curbing tobacco usage. The Confucius says it is “the starting point of filial conducts by cherishing our skin and hair given by parents”. Based on this, tobacco usage, inimical to human health, contradicts with traditional culture. 

There are fewer and.fewer countries and regions where cigarettes packs are not printed with warning signs on a noticeable place. Employing the culture logic by the tobacco official, aka printing warning sign doesn’t fit with our traditional culture, one preposderous conclusion can be easily made: Macao, Hong Kong and Taiwan, having the same culture genesis with the mainland, however, obliging to print warning signs on cigarette packs, should have originated from a various culture source. 


Definitely speaking, demurring to print warning signs is not a problem of culture concern, but for one thing, a matter of legality adaption. Currently, there is only one article in the Law on Tobacco Monopoly to elaborate on cigarettes package, which stipulates that cigarettes packs available on the mainland market should be printed with warning letters “smoking is bad to health” and provide figures on the grade of tar content. This article is not enough to curb tobacco usage. Because there is no law articles mandating to print warning sings, their products available on the mainland market never print, but their products, before being exported to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, must have printed warning signs on packs because of tight regulation on eigarettes packs in these regions. 

Justifying saying no to print warning signs with cultural concerns, for another, is a matter of economic interests. The latest data show that governmental fiscal revenue contributed by tobacco industry reached 1095 billion yuan in 2015, annually increased by over 20 percent, despite that tobacco sales volumes had decreased by 2.36 percent. The total fiscal revenue in 2015 was 15221 billion yuan, signifying that 7 percent of total revenue comes from tobacco industry. 

The huge amount of tobacco revenues has almost made tobacco management department have less incentives to employ effective policies that might reduce this revenue.  China has one government department responsible for both tobacco control and tobacco sales. The department has two various names: State Tobacco Monopoly Administration and China Tobacco Company. The former must take measures to control tobacco while the latter has to make profits by selling tobacco. As two contradictory roles co-exist in a certain  department, plus the absence of outside supervision, the department has little impetus to employ effective policies of controling tobacco usage.

From the perspective of long-term national benefits, tobacco usage brings more damages than goods. Seemingly, tobacco usage brings lots of taxes and revenues to the government, but its latent side-effects is worrisome and will be enormous. As Mr. Chen Zhu, former Minister of Health, reiterated that "economic losses resulted in by tobacco usage have almost  outstripped the gains it can bring about, and more over, the havoc which tobacco use has wrecked on patients with smoking diseases, their families and the whole society can’t be evaluated by money."

As the central government plans to expand the anti-smoking initiative in public areas during the 13th Five Year Plan, it is high time to legalise printing warning signs on cigarettes packs to.intimidate smokers. If the tobacco department has no incentives to do this from within, the national legislature should do something without delay. 

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Reply Report BlondeAmber 2016-4-5 20:37
the current levels of smoking address a number of needs:
1) the number of farmers producing tobacco
2) the number of people employed in manufacturing cigarettes.
3) the taxes generated by the sale of cigarettes
4) the amount people spend on healthcare due to the incidence of smoking related diseases
5) the large number of deaths that can be attributed to smoking.

If the production and manufacturing of tobacco is made illegal in an attempt to reduce smoking, thousands would lose their jobs.
If cigarettes were not sold, thousands of RMB in tax would not be generated.
If people did not contract smoking related diseases and die, there would be many thousands more people alive and therefore needing work, food and shelter.

so, essentially cigarettes are doing a great public service by keeping some people employed and killing others.
Reply Report voice_cd 2016-4-6 09:30
Thanks for sharing here, we have highlighted your blog.
Reply Report Dracarys 2016-4-6 11:59
it's useless for those who addicted to cigarette but it's better than nothing ...
Reply Report seanboyce88 2016-4-6 14:09
"China Tobacco Monopoly Administration, said during the Two Sessions that printing these signs does not fit in with China’s traditional culture"

How is printing warnings on labels IN ANYWAY RELATED TO TRADITIONAL CULTURE?????

China, you cannot continu to use this weak argument for anything you do not like. It makes you look weak, like your argument is collapsing around you and you are clutching at straws looking for excuses.

As for you the Chinese people, I am stunned that people accept this from the China tobacco MONOPOLY administration....its in the name MONOPOLY!. If they are deciding cigarette laws, nothing will ever change, yet this culture of not speaking out will just harm even more Chinese citizens. I have seen Chinese people start up companies to save millions of dogs from being eaten every year, yet no one starts HUMANITARIAN missions. Are you terrified that this company may be linked to the government?

As someone who quit smoking recently, I beg you to read and understand how awful these companies are. If you do not speak out now, you will be forever stuck with this monopoly stripping money from you in order to feed your addiction, killing you slowly at the same time.
Reply Report seanboyce88 2016-4-6 14:10
"It is known that tobacco, imported from Latin American in Ming Dynasty, is not our digestive staple, so controlling tobacco usage is impossible to be defined as unfitting with our traditional culture."

To the OP, great job on this article, a fantastic job and you are entirely correct with this sentence!!!
Reply Report TedM 2016-4-7 16:22
Other countries have attempted to discourage smoking with warning labels and posters and advertising campaigns. Very commendable but proving ineffective. The only way to reduce cigarette smoking is to price it beyond reach with taxes.
I have said here before that smoking in China is now a social habit that has become almost a cultural issue. Yet this is no reason to reject warnings. Other countries have been faced with countless and well financed obstacles to any reform, placed there by tobacco companies and those political figures who profit from the income it produces. Is this what is happening here?
And... why is it that only men seem to smoke in China? In the west an increasing number of young girls are smoking, but not here. In fact they seem to hate it too.   (I know... the Chinese way. Ban it!)
Reply Report SEARU 2016-4-11 22:13
All cigarette factories should be closed by law!
We must take cigarettes as a kind of drug!

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