China - graphic warnings on cigarette packs..

February 18, 2009 - China is a signatory to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The treaty stipulates that on packs of tobacco, consequences of smoking must be clearly and strikingly stated. The words or pictures shall take up no less than 30 percent of the entire packing.

China's tobacco control authorities are seeking support from netizens (a person who is a frequent or habitual user of the Internet) to urge producers to print warning pictures on cigarette packaging, trying to set an agenda for the coming parliamentary and political advisory sessions.

The netizens' opinions will be submitted to national political advisors before they meet in March for their annual full meeting to call for more effective tobacco control efforts, organizers said. The National Tobacco Control Office (NTCO) initiated the move with several websites to ask the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration to ensure that harms of tobacco are clearly specified on the packs with pictures.

In China, although cigarette packs carry characters that read "smoking is harmful to your health," 70 percent of consumers are still ignorant or numb to the warning, according to a survey by the office last year.

There are 350 million smokers in China (one-third, of the world’s total smokers) that is 50 million more than the entire population of the U.S. China is not only the largest tobacco producer in the world, but China consumes about 40% of the world’s cigarettes. Almost two-thirds of Chinese men (63%), and 3.8% of Chinese women, are smokers. According to a 1998 survey, among Chinese adolescents aged 11–20 years, almost half (47.8%) of the boys and 12.8% of the girls surveyed were experimenting with tobacco. If current trends continue, China’s tobacco-related death toll could reach 2.2 million per year by 2020 and 3 million per year by 2050.

Among the FCTC provisions, China is required to ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship on radio, television, print media and the Internet within five years. It also prohibits tobacco-company sponsorship of international events and activities. Chinese state media reported that China is to ban all tobacco-vending machines, including in self-administered Hong Kong and Macao.

Reference: China's Anti-tobacco Fighters Demand Warning Pictures on Cigarettes, Beijing, 2/18/2009.