Smoking Ban Means Chinese TV and Movie Stars Must Butt Out

Natalie Wang , July 13, 2015 8:58am (updated)

China’s Central Television airs scenes of Deng Xiaoping smoking in his autobiographic TV series called Deng Xiaoping at Historical Crossroads

China’s push to crack down on smoking is reaching into the country’s entertainment industry. The government is set to ban characters in movies and TV shows from taking drags on cigarettes, according to a new draft regulation on cigarette control introduced by the State Council on November 24.

According to the document, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) will be responsible for “supervising and managing” content on shows that involve smoking.

A broadcaster can be fined from RMB 5,000 to RMB 30,000 if the media censor finds a movie or television show that broadcasts scenes containing cigarette smoking. Shows that contain heavy smoking scenes could even be suspended and taken off the air, according to the report.

In addition to smoking scenes on big screens, the restrictions also extend to public spaces, cigarette commercials and vending machines. If the regulation is passed, China would ban cigarette commercials, smoking in indoor public spaces, and prohibit public servants from smoking in public.

Chinese actor in the movie Let the Bullet Fly

But whether the regulation translates into tangible results is still a big question mark. One Weibo user called LL宇H wrote, “All the scenes showing Grandpa Mao (Mao Zedong) and Mister Deng (Deng Xiaoping) smoking will be scrubbed off the screen? What does this mean for their personal characters?” Another questioned if the regulation is only scratching the surface rather than dealing with the real problem. 泡泡匠 commented, “If you really have the guts, why not just ban people from growing tobacco? This is really self-deceiving…” Given the millions earned in taxes from tobacco sales, this seems unlikely. User 小凝和轩宝 wrote, “There won’t be any tobacco trade if there is no demand! They can close down these giant tobacco companies first.”

Photos: CCTV, Net Ease 


Natalie Wang

Journalist based in Hong Kong.