China Removes Smoking from Movies. Will it Stop Chinese Smoking?

China bans smoking on TV, but does it mean anything if they don't ban it in real life?

Surprising news from Beijing today, according to the Huffington Post:

China is ordering makers of films and TV shows to limit the amount of smoking depicted on-screen, the latest effort to curb rampant tobacco use in the country with the largest number of smokers in the world.


Why is this news so incredible? Mostly because the State-owned tobacco monopoly has until now hindered anti smoking measures, most recently government has basically been supporting the Tobacco industry. Reuters reported earlier this month:

"The tobacco industry opposes tobacco control everywhere. But that opposition is very effective in China because it has presence in the body heading tobacco control," said Professor Yang Gonghuan, lead author of the report and deputy director general of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control.


Each year, about 1.2 million people die from smoking-related diseases on mainland China and that number is expected to reach 3.5 million by 2030, according to the World Health Organization.

But sadly, the very visible crackdown on reducing cigarettes in film and TV is really more of a pacification effort or PR stunt to calm down Chinese health officials, since the Chinese can still smoke in indoor public places and don't pay tax on cigarettes.