Since there are no national laws banning the use of consumption of tobacco in China, The China Daily quoted a report in the Beijing News as saying that "there is no legal basis for completely prohibiting smoking scenes in teleplays and movies."
The statement was released on Wednesday during a seminar on China's efforts to meet its obligations to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Data suggests that nearly 63 percent of the domestically made television programs shown in 2004 and 2005 included smoking scenes. Each program had an average of 30 such scenes.
In the three and a half years since China signed the WHO convention, both the production and sale of cigarettes have increased by 20 percent.
Fang Jiqian, a public-health professor at the Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University, said: "The government should ban smoking in more public places to protect non-smokers."
In late August, Xu Guihua, vice-president of the China Tobacco Control Association, said the authorities would ban tobacco promotions by January 2011.
The State Tobacco Monopoly Administration estimates that China is home to more than 350 million smokers, about 26 percent of the country's population and a third of the world's smoking population. Each year, about 1 million Chinese die of smoking-related diseases.