LANGUAGE
Last updated: February 24th 2020

Regulated Forms of Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship

Domestic TV and radio (including all broadcast media such as satellite and cable)

Banned
The listed form of tobacco advertising, promotion & sponsorship is completely banned.
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Analysis:

The Smoking Ordinance specifically prohibits the broadcast of tobacco advertising by “transmission of sound by means of radio waves,” and by “transmission of visual images or sound by wireless or otherwise than by wireless.” This provision covers all TV and radio broadcasting, as well as other domestic broadcast media such as satellite and cable.

The law aligns with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines with respect to domestic TV, radio, and other broadcast media.

Domestic newspapers and magazines

Banned
The listed form of tobacco advertising, promotion & sponsorship is completely banned.
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Analysis:

The Smoking Ordinance prohibits tobacco advertising in “any local newspaper” and “any document printed, published, or distributed in Hong Kong.” Therefore, tobacco advertising is prohibited in domestic newspapers and magazines.

The law aligns with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines with respect to domestic newspapers and magazines.

Other domestic print media, such as pamphlets, leaflet, flyers, posters, signs (not including print advertising at the point of sale)

Banned
The listed form of tobacco advertising, promotion & sponsorship is completely banned.
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Analysis:

The Smoking Ordinance prohibits tobacco advertising in “any document printed, published, or distributed in Hong Kong.” Therefore, tobacco advertising is prohibited via domestic print media such as pamphlets, leaflets, flyers, posters, and signs.

The law aligns with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines with respect to domestic print media.

International TV and radio (including all broadcast media such as satellite and cable)

Uncertain
The status of the regulation is uncertain due to lack of clarity in the law or inability to obtain all relevant laws.
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Analysis:

The Smoking Ordinance specifically prohibits the broadcast of tobacco advertising by “transmission of sound by means of radio waves,” and by “transmission of visual images or sound by wireless or otherwise than by wireless.” This provision covers all TV and radio broadcasting, as well as other means of broadcasting such as satellite and cable.

The ban, however, makes no mention of its application to international broadcast media. The ban would likely be interpreted to include advertising entering Hong Kong because allowing such advertising would defeat the purpose of the ban. It is not clear whether the ban would be applied to cross-border tobacco advertising originating from Hong Kong. Because the law is unclear on cross-border advertising, the regulatory status of “Uncertain” has been assigned.

To align with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines, the law should make it clear that the ban covers tobacco advertising and promotion on both domestic and cross-border media, including TV, radio, and other means of broadcast such as satellite and cable.

International newspapers and magazines

Banned
The listed form of tobacco advertising, promotion & sponsorship is completely banned.
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Analysis:

The Smoking Ordinance prohibits tobacco advertising in “any document printed, published, or distributed in Hong Kong.” The law is interpreted as prohibiting tobacco advertising in international newspapers and magazines, as these are documents “distributed in Hong Kong.”

The law aligns with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines with respect to international newspapers and magazines.

Internet communications

Banned
The listed form of tobacco advertising, promotion & sponsorship is completely banned.
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Internet communications (not sales)

Analysis:

The law specifically prohibits tobacco advertising on the internet.

The law aligns with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines with respect to internet communications.

Internet tobacco product sales

Allowed
There is no ban and there are no restrictions whatsoever applicable.
Analysis:

The law does not specifically prohibit or restrict the sale of tobacco products through the internet; therefore, the law is interpreted as permitting internet tobacco product sales.

To align with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines, the law should prohibit internet tobacco product sales, regardless of age, as internet sales are an inherent form of tobacco advertising and promotion.

Outdoor advertising (e.g., billboards, posters)

Banned
The listed form of tobacco advertising, promotion & sponsorship is completely banned.
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Analysis:

The Smoking Ordinance prohibits the “display,” and publishing and distribution “for the purpose of display,” of “any tobacco advertisement in writing or other permanent or semi-permanent form.” This provision is interpreted as prohibiting outdoor advertising.

The law aligns with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines with respect to outdoor advertising.

Point of sale advertising/promotion

Banned
The listed form of tobacco advertising, promotion & sponsorship is completely banned.
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Point of sale advertising/promotion (other than product displays)

Analysis:

The Smoking Ordinance prohibits the “display,” and publishing and distribution “for the purpose of display,” of “any tobacco advertisement in writing or other permanent or semi-permanent form.” This provision is interpreted as prohibiting the display of tobacco advertising at point of sale. In addition, Section 14(6) specifically allows the display of price markers and price boards, making clear that all other information at point of sale is considered tobacco advertising and therefore prohibited.

The law aligns with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines with respect to point of sale advertising and promotion.

Point of sale product display

Allowed
There is no ban and there are no restrictions whatsoever applicable.
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Analysis:

The law does not address point of sale product display specifically. Because the definition of “advertisement” applies to “announcements,” the prohibition on tobacco advertising is not interpreted as covering promotional practices such as product display. In addition, because Section 15A specifically prohibits certain forms of promotion but does not prohibit product display, the law is interpreted as allowing product display.

To align with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines, product displays should clearly be banned under a broad prohibition on tobacco advertising and promotion.

Vending machines

Banned
The listed form of tobacco advertising, promotion & sponsorship is completely banned.
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Analysis:

The Smoking Ordinance specifically prohibits the sale of tobacco products by vending machine. In addition, in the National People's Congress Standing Committee Decision to ratify the FCTC, the Congress simultaneously prohibited any automatic cigarette vending machines from being used within the territory of the PRC.

The law aligns with FCTC Art. 13, the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines, and FCTC Art. 16 (sales to minors) with respect to sale of tobacco products by vending machine.

Conventional mail

Banned
The listed form of tobacco advertising, promotion & sponsorship is completely banned.
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Analysis:

The Ordinance prohibits the display of tobacco advertising, and publishing and distributing tobacco advertising for the purpose of display. This provision is interpreted as prohibiting the printing of tobacco advertising for delivery through conventional mail.

The law aligns with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines with respect to conventional mail.

Telephone and cellular phone

Uncertain
The status of the regulation is uncertain due to lack of clarity in the law or inability to obtain all relevant laws.
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Analysis:

The Smoking Ordinance prohibits “broadcast” of tobacco advertising “by the transmission of . . . sound by wireless or otherwise than by wireless for general reception by members of the public.” This provision could be interpreted to prohibit tobacco advertising via phone, as it is a tobacco advertisement by transmission of sound by wireless or otherwise. However, as the advertisement is directed to an individual, rather than broadcast to the general public, it is unclear that this provision governs telephone advertising.

For the law to align with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines, tobacco promotion and advertising via telephone and cellular phone should clearly be banned under a broad prohibition on tobacco advertising and promotion.

Brand marking on physical structures

Banned
The listed form of tobacco advertising, promotion & sponsorship is completely banned.
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Distinctive words, designs, images, logos, sounds, or colors to promote tobacco products in entertainment venues, retail outlets, on vehicles and equipment, or other physical structures (brand marking on physical structures, other than on tobacco product packaging and labeling and print material)

Analysis:

The Smoking Ordinance prohibits the display of “any trade mark or brand name of a tobacco product, or any pictorial device or part thereof commonly associated therewith” on any object in the course of conducting any business or providing any service. This provision is interpreted as prohibiting brand marking.

The law aligns with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines with respect to brand marking.

Free distribution of tobacco products

Banned
The listed form of tobacco advertising, promotion & sponsorship is completely banned.
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Analysis:

The law specifically prohibits the free distribution of cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, and cigar and pipe tobacco.

The law aligns with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines with respect to the free distribution of tobacco products.

Promotions with a tobacco product purchase

Banned
The listed form of tobacco advertising, promotion & sponsorship is completely banned.
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Promotional discounts, gifts, prizes, rewards to consumers in conjunction with a tobacco product purchase (e.g., buy one pack, get one free or, key chains, t-shirts, coupons, points)

Analysis:

The Smoking Ordinance prohibits the use of promotional discounts, gifts, prizes, or any other valuable consideration as an inducement to purchase a tobacco product.

The law aligns with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines with respect to promotional gifts and prizes.

Competitions associated with tobacco products

Uncertain
The status of the regulation is uncertain due to lack of clarity in the law or inability to obtain all relevant laws.
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Competitions associated with tobacco products or brand names, whether requiring the purchase of a tobacco product or not

Analysis:

Although Section 15A of the Smoking Ordinance prohibits the sale of a tobacco products in association with competitions, it is not clear that competitions associated with tobacco products are prohibited if purchase of product is not required.

The law should clearly prohibit competitions associated with tobacco products, regardless of whether purchase of a tobacco product is required.

Direct person to person targeting of individuals

Allowed
There is no ban and there are no restrictions whatsoever applicable.
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Analysis:

The Smoking Ordinance does not address promotion by direct person-to-person means. Therefore, the law is interpreted as allowing this type of promotion.

To align with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines, the law should prohibit all tobacco advertising and promotion, including by direct person-to-person marketing.

Brand stretching/trademark diversification

Banned
The listed form of tobacco advertising, promotion & sponsorship is completely banned.
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Non-tobacco products or services using tobacco brand names or carrying a brand logo or other brand indicia (brand stretching)

Analysis:

The Smoking Ordinance prohibits the use on any object of “any trademark or brand name of a tobacco product, or pictorial device or part thereof commonly associated therewith.” This provision prohibits brand stretching.

The law aligns with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines with respect to brand stretching.

Reverse brand stretching or brand sharing

Uncertain
The status of the regulation is uncertain due to lack of clarity in the law or inability to obtain all relevant laws.
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Tobacco products or services using non-tobacco brand names (reverse brand stretching or brand sharing)

Analysis:

Reverse brand stretching may fall within the definition of “tobacco advertising” set forth in Section 14 of the Smoking Ordinance. Specifically, reverse brand stretching could be considered an “implied inducement, suggestion or request to purchase or smoke cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, cigars or pipe tobacco.” However, it is unclear that this is the case.

To align with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines, the law should clearly prohibit brand stretching.

Toys that resemble tobacco products

Allowed
There is no ban and there are no restrictions whatsoever applicable.
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Analysis:

The Smoking Ordinance does not specifically prohibit the manufacture or sale of toys that resemble tobacco products.

To align with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines, the law should prohibit the manufacture and sale of toys that resemble tobacco products.

Candy that resembles tobacco products

Allowed
There is no ban and there are no restrictions whatsoever applicable.
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Analysis:

The Smoking Ordinance does not specifically prohibit the manufacture or sale of candy that resembles tobacco products.

To align with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines, the law should prohibit the manufacture and sale of candy that resembles tobacco products.

Retailer incentive programs

Allowed
There is no ban and there are no restrictions whatsoever applicable.
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Retailer incentive programs (e.g., rewards to retailers for achieving certain sales volume, enhanced displays, etc.) or other payments to encourage them to sell tobacco products

Analysis:

Section 15A of the Smoking Ordinance prohibits many forms of tobacco promotion; however, it does not specifically prohibit retailer incentive programs. Therefore, the law is interpreted as allowing retailer incentive programs.

To align with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines, the law should prohibit the practice of retailer incentive programs as part of a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. Using the term “tobacco advertising and promotion” and defining it in accordance with FCTC Art. 1(c) would help clarify the scope of the ban.

Paid placement of tobacco products in TV, film or other media

Banned
The listed form of tobacco advertising, promotion & sponsorship is completely banned.
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Analysis:

Section 13A of the Smoking Ordinance specifically prohibits exhibiting a tobacco advertisement by film; therefore, paid placement in film is prohibited. Paid placement in TV and other media is also prohibited because paid placement of tobacco products falls within the definition of “tobacco advertisement” in Section 14(1) of the Smoking Ordinance. As such, paid placement is prohibited under Section 12, which prohibits the “display” of tobacco advertisements.

The law aligns with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines with respect to paid placement of tobacco products.

Unpaid depiction of tobacco use or tobacco products in media that does not serve a legitimate purpose

Allowed
There is no ban and there are no restrictions whatsoever applicable.
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Unpaid depiction of tobacco use or tobacco products in TV, film or other media that is not legitimate journalistic, artistic, or academic expression or legitimate social or political commentary

Analysis:

The Smoking Ordinance states that the “incidental appearance of any tobacco product . . . where no valuable consideration has been or is intended to be given” is not a tobacco advertisement. This provision is interpreted as covering unpaid depiction of tobacco products; therefore, such practice is allowed.

To align with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines, the law should specifically address unpaid placement in accordance with FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines paras. 29-32.

Tobacco industry sponsorship of events, activities, individuals, organizations or governments

Allowed
There is no ban and there are no restrictions whatsoever applicable.
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Financial or other sponsorship or support by the tobacco industry to events, activities, individuals or groups (e.g., groups involved in sports, the arts, politics, charitable or welfare, or other activities, or youth smoking prevention programs)

Analysis:

The law places no restrictions on contributions to events, activities, individuals, organizations, or governments, regardless of whether the financial or other support is publicized or not. The law specifically allows sponsorship of events, as well as for congratulating another person or thing for an achievement.

To align with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines, the law should prohibit all contributions to individuals, organizations, events, or activities that that have the aim, effect, or likely effect of promoting tobacco products directly or indirectly.

Publicity of financial or other sponsorship or support by the tobacco industry if tobacco sponsorship is not banned

Some Restrictions
There is not a complete ban on the listed form of tobacco advertising, promotion & sponsorship, but one or more limits on the form applies.
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Analysis:

The law places no restrictions on contributions to events, activities, individuals, organizations, or governments, regardless of whether the financial or other support is publicized or not. The law specifically allows sponsorship of events, as well as for congratulating another person or thing for an achievement. The only restriction in the law is that the advertisement of such sponsorship may not mention the words cigarette(s), cigar(s), pipe(s), tobacco, or smoking.

To align with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines, the law should prohibit all tobacco sponsorship and publicity thereof.

Promotion by any means that are false, misleading or deceptive

Banned
The listed form of tobacco advertising, promotion & sponsorship is completely banned.
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Promotion by any means that are false, misleading or deceptive or likely to create an erroneous impression about a product's characteristics, health effects, hazards or emissions (covering any term, descriptor, trademark, emblem, marketing image, logo, color and figurative, or any other indicia)

Analysis:

Section 10 of the Smoking Ordinance prohibits the promotion of tobacco products by “any means that is false, misleading, deceptive or likely to create an erroneous impression about its characteristics, health effects, hazards or emissions.”

The law aligns with FCTC Art. 13 and the FCTC Art. 13 Guidelines in this respect.