Smoking scenes on Chinese television channels have become a matter of concern for many tobacco control supporters.
Reason: Officials feel these scenes could easily mislead teenagers and leave them without a correct understanding as to what harm tobacco is responsible for, reports English.news.cn.
While monitoring seven Chinese television channels, Xinhua reporters found 49 screen shots of smoking from four TV series being aired between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. on January 4.
Of those smoking scenes, some lasted less than one second while others went on for as long as five seconds.
It was also found that some of China's major tobacco brands, such as Hongta, are promoting their brand images through advertisements that mentioned no tobacco, but only the brand names.
Yang Gonghuan, director of the National Office for Tobacco Control, has called for a decrease in such screen shots.
"A decrease in such screen shots will be good for protecting the young from tobacco," said Gonghuan.
The China Association on Tobacco Control (CATC), a non-profit organization, last year found that smoking scenes appeared in 31 movies, with an average of 15 screen shots, while smoking scenes were found in 28 TV series, with an average of 85 such screen shots.
According to a survey by Beijing Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which was conducted among 11,000 middle school students, 32.87 percent said they would like to try smoking after seeing actors smoke on TV.
Further, 60 percent of senior students at vocational high schools reported that they could follow the fashion, especially when the actors who smoke on TV are superstars.
Though tobacco advertisements are banned on China's radio, TV and print media, China still has no concrete laws and regulations to prohibit tobacco companies from sponsoring activities such as auto racing, said Gonghuan.
He said China's failure to prevent tobacco companies from doing publicity via sponsoring events also kept it far from meeting the requirements of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which called for tighter measures in such promotions.