Recently, the China Association on Tobacco Control (CATC) held a press conference on the results of the 2019 tobacco sales point survey. A survey of 741 tobacco outlets in eight cities, seven counties, and three townships in eight provinces showed that tobacco advertising at tobacco-selling outlets rebounded significantly, with up to 23% of tobacco-selling outlets selling e-cigarettes.
As early as in May 2016, the CATC conducted a tobacco advertising survey of 11 cities in 11 provinces, after the implementation of the newly revised Advertising Law, and found that tobacco advertising in outdoor and public places was significantly reduced, while tobacco sales outlets were the hardest hit by tobacco advertising.
After three years, the CATC once again surveyed 741 tobacco sales points in eight provinces and found that tobacco advertising at tobacco sales outlets rebounded significantly. Xu Guihua, senior consultant and researcher the CATC, said: “In the 2019 survey, 64.9% of the sales outlets had tobacco advertisements, an increase of 19.2% from 45.7% in 2016. Especially in big cities such as is Guangzhou and Shanghai, tobacco advertising has spiked dramatically. A survey in Guangzhou in 2019 shows that 100% of sales outlets found tobacco advertising, an increase of 71.2% from 2016; Shanghai increased by 27.6%.”
According to the survey, 64.9% of the 8 cities found tobacco advertising which was mostly found in Guangzhou and Zhengzhou, 100% of the sales outlets investigated found tobacco advertising; followed by Chengdu, 97.5%, Hefei was 96.3%, the least was Laiwu 3.3% and Shenzhen 3.4%. Among the different types of tobacco sales outlets, tobacco advertisements in tobacco stores in cities and counties/towns ranked first, significantly higher than supermarkets and convenience stores. Xu Guihua mentioned that both surveys found that there were promotional activities in tobacco sales outlets, and the promotion activities of specialty stores ranked first: “There are up to 30.2% of sales outlets with promotional activities, and 23% of sales outlets selling e-cigarettes. World Health Organization has repeatedly warned that e-cigarettes have safety risks. At present, in the absence of e-cigarette standards and regulations, 23% of county/town sales outlets are selling e-cigarettes. The market regulators are called upon a more specific and strict supervision system to curb the tobacco advertising and increasing sales of e-cigarettes.”
According to the 2018 China Adult Tobacco Survey released by the China CDC, the consumers of e-cigarettes in China is mainly young people, and the e-cigarette utilization rate of the 15-24 age group is 1.5%. The most important way to obtain e-cigarettes is online shopping. Compared with 2015, people who heard of e-cigarettes, used e-cigarettes, and currently using e-cigarette have been increasing. Mao Qun’an, director of the Planning Department of the National Health and Health Commission, said at the press conference on the tobacco control action in the Healthy China Action: “In view of the insecurity of e-cigarettes, it has an impact on the formation of adolescents’ health habits, and the supervision of e-cigarettes must be strictly strengthened. In accordance with the work arrangement of the Inter-Ministerial Coordination Leading Group for Tobacco Control, we are currently working with the relevant departments to conduct research on e-cigarette supervision and plan to supervise e-cigarettes through legislation.”
The survey found that up to 50% of tobacco sales outlets did not set a ban on the sale of minors; it was found that 3.9% of young people did not refuse to enter the store; 2.7% of the sales outlets were located within 50 meters of the primary and secondary schools. This indicates that the provisions of the Law on the Protection of Minors regarding the prohibition of the sale of cigarettes to minors have not been effectively implemented. Liao Wenke, vice president of the CATC, suggested that juvenile tobacco control is an important part of controlling the decline in smoking rates among smokers in China. Relevant departments should increase supervision. He said: “The market supervision department should prohibit the establishment of tobacco sales outlets around the school. It should investigate and deal with the sales of tobacco products to minors. It is also necessary to seriously investigate and punish tobacco advertisements. In particular, it is still more obvious to wipe the ball through the Internet. Therefore, it is necessary to seriously investigate and punish tobacco advertisements, especially those in legal grey areas such as the internet.”