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Home \Legislation by Country \China \  Summary
Last updated: July 21st 2015

Introduction

China became a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on January 9, 2006.

Smoke Free Places: Smoking is completely prohibited in at least 28 indoor public places, including medical facilities, restaurants, bars, and most public transportation. Designated smoking areas are permitted in other specified places, such as long-distance transport. Sub-national jurisdictions have the authority to implement local smoke free policies.

Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship: Tobacco advertising is prohibited on film, television, radio, in newspapers and magazines, and in some public places. Other forms of tobacco advertising are permitted, including at point of sale, online, through sponsored events and organizations, and with brand stretching. Local jurisdictions have the authority to regulate outdoor tobacco advertising.

Tobacco Packaging and Labeling: Required warnings are text-only, use small type, and cover at most 30 percent of the pack. Tobacco companies are allowed to design their own warning labels as long as they meet the minimum requirements set by the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration. Misleading terms such as "light" and "low tar" are prohibited on tobacco packaging, but other misleading packaging (e.g., colors, number, and symbols) is not prohibited.

Roadmap to Tobacco Control Legislation: In China, the National People’s Congress, the highest state body, has not passed a comprehensive tobacco control law. Instead, there are several relevant laws and regulations that address tobacco use in China. In 1991, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passed the Law of People’s Republic of China on Tobacco Monopoly (Tobacco Monopoly Law) for the purposes of managing the manufacture and business of tobacco products, increasing the quality of tobacco products, protecting consumers’ interests, and ensuring state revenue. The law is concerned primarily with exercising monopoly control over tobacco commodities and operating a monopoly license system, although it also includes provisions regarding the display of tar yields and general health warnings on tobacco packaging. Further, the Tobacco Monopoly Law bans certain types of advertising of tobacco products (radio, TV and newspaper or periodicals). The State Council, the chief administrative authority, issued Regulations for the Implementation of the Tobacco Monopoly Law in 1997, elaborating upon matters addressed in the law.

The Advertising Law of the People’s Republic on China (Advertising Law), promulgated in 1994, supplemented tobacco advertising requirements by adding moving pictures and magazines to the types of media in which tobacco advertising is banned. The State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) issued the Criteria on Censoring Advertisements in 1994, establishing the standards and procedures through which permissible tobacco advertising may be approved. In 1996, the SAIC issued the Interim Rules on Tobacco Advertising Management in order to further implement the Advertising Law. In addition, SAIC publicly released a series of replies it issued in response to inquiries about tobacco advertising.

Several laws and regulations set forth China’s smoke free policies. These laws and regulations were issued by a variety of agencies and place restrictions on smoking in a broad range of public places. Such promulgations include: (1) Ministry of Health Rules on the Implementation of Public Places Sanitation Administration Regulations; (2) Law on the Protection of Minors (prohibiting smoking in places where minors gather, such as schools, dormitories, etc.); (3) Rules on the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Transport and Waiting Rooms (issued jointly by six agencies); (4) Civil Aviation Administration Rules on the Prohibition of Smoking in Civil Airports and Civil Aircraft; and (5) State Council Regulations on the Administration of Business Premises for Internet Access Services (banning smoking in internet cafes and public computer lounges).

General packaging and labeling requirements are set forth in the Tobacco Monopoly Law (1991) and its accompanying implementing regulations (1997). More specific requirements, the Rules on Cigarette Package Labeling in the Territories of the People’s Republic of China, were issued in 2007 by the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. The following year, the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration issued its Notice on Interpretation of Relevant Articles in the Rules on Cigarette Package Labeling in the Territories of People’s Republic of China and on Review and Approval Requirements. In addition to elaborating on matters such as text, size, colors, etc., the Notice prohibited the use of misleading terms such as “mild” and “low tar content” on tobacco packaging. In 2011, the China National Tobacco Corporation published a Notice on Further Strengthening the Degree of Cigarette Package Warning Labeling requiring its subordinate companies to amend their warning labels.

Review Status

This country’s legal measures were reviewed by our legal staff in consultation with in-country lawyers or tobacco control experts.

The materials and analysis available at this website are for informational and educational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.