Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lighting Up Attention

Last night I took the 614 bus home from Dongzhimen.

And one of the commercials on the TV screen was a startling one that grabbed your attention.

It showed three scenarios where people present cartons of cigarettes to friends and family as gifts.

In the first one, the recipients, middle-aged men, are horrified, as in place of the cigarettes, they see a pair of blackened lungs.

Next, a group of people have shocked expressions on their faces, when they see a man in pyjamas, dragging an oxygen tank with him and a saline drip.

The last scene shows an older couple, who, instead of seeing the man holding a carton of cigarettes as gifts, sees him present a funeral wreath instead.

The message basically says that giving cigarettes is not a good idea, as the recipients may think you're trying to kill them.

China has some 350 million smokers and the country's State Tobacco Monopoly Association is a hard one to crack as it is one of the Middle Kingdom's biggest taxpayers.

While the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has suggested to member states to adopt graphic picture warnings on their cigarette packaging to get the message across, China has been slow to do that.

It has dragged its feet by adopting the minimum requirements, like printing warnings in the smallest font size and covering an area of 30 percent of the packet, without a distinctive contrasting colour background to highlight the message.

The reason? The State Tobacco Monopoly Association manages the work related to the implementation of the convention.

Talk about counterproductive.

However -- if the television commercial I saw gets more play not only on buses, but subways and TVs, then it may definitely shock people into thinking twice about lighting up.

It's a good start that I hope continues to have messages that are even more horrifying to watch.

1 comment:

ks said...

yes it is a very good start indeed. a journey of ten thousand miles start with one small step. hopefully in the next 10-20 years smoking will be extinct in china. in a recent survey i was shocked to learn that europeans smoke much more than the chinese. perhaps the image of margaret thacher riding as a cowgirl for marborough still deeply ingrained in the young europeans.