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Directors of movies, teleplays in China urged to cut smoking scenes

8 March 2007: Directors of films and teleplays in China have been advised to cut smoking scenes in their works.

The advice comes amidst fears that too much exposure to smoking scenes in movies and teleplays would undermine China’s efforts to control use of tobacco.

“Bad guys smoke. Good guys smoke, too. In sadness, they smoke. In happiness, they smoke, too. When in trouble, they smoke. But when the trouble is fixed, they are still smoking,” political advisor Fang Jiqian said.

Fang Jiqian made these remarks at a group discussion on the sidelines of an annual session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the highest advisory body of the country, and won support from his fellow advisors.

“Nearly 63% of the popular home-made teleplays shown in 2004 and 2005 have smoking scenes – each teleplay having 30 smoking scenes on an average,” Fang said. “Too much smoking scenes have an adverse impact on the audience, especially youths.”

Fang Jiqian, a professor of public health with Sun Yat-sen University, requested the authorities to take action to restrict the smoking scenes in movies and teleplays to create a better environment for the health and growth of young people.

He blamed government departments concerned for having failed to put tobacco and tobacco commercials under strict control.

“The government should completely ban all commercial promotions of tobacco products and expand tobacco ban to more public places to better protect non-smokers,” Fang demanded.

The State Tobacco Monopoly Administration estimates that China has over 350 million smokers, which is about 26% of the country’s total population and a third of the world’s smoking population.

Each year, about 1 million Chinese die of smoking-related diseases.

Fang said tobacco control is a solemn commitment made by the Chinese government and “it concerns the image of the government.”

He went on to blame the government for insufficient action, saying that weak official efforts have led to the rise of both tobacco needs and supply in recent years.

However, Fang did not get much support from the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration. “We are fully aware that smoking harms people’s health, but we also fear that completely banning smoking would affect social stability,” Zhang Baozhen, deputy chief of the administration, said at the group discussion.

Zhang did not elaborate on how a complete ban of smoking would bring harm to social stability, and said tobacco control is a “long-term task.”



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