Smoking emojis not the focus of tobacco control
A collection of popular emojis on instant messaging software QQ in China. [Photo/Tencent]
ON WEDNESDAY, some of China’s social media deleted emojis representing a person smoking from their platforms, because there were concerns that it might mislead young people into linking being “cool” with smoking. Thepaper.cn comments:
By deleting the emojis, the companies said they hope to help curb an implied link between smoking and being cool. Beijing Tabacco Control Association praised the move and called on other domestic IT companies to delete similar emojis from their social network apps.
However, it remains debatable how much influence such moves will have. Frankly, requiring social media companies to delete such emojis is not one of the most pressing tasks to curb tobacco use.
In Singapore, where tobacco control is rather effective, the local authorities have taken many measures to prohibit smoking in public. For example, they have made clear detailed standards for fining those who illegally smoke in public places. They have even adjusted the number and the locations of public trash cans so that smokers won’t have anywhere to drop their cigarette butts.
All these are good examples that China can learn from. More important, the government should take measures to break the interest chain of tobacco. As early as April 2015, the newly amended Advertisement Law forbid tobacco advertisements, but an official survey last year shows there were still many illegal tobacco advertisements online.
The tobacco control associations nationwide should pay more attention to solving these problems. An open tobacco advertisement does much more harm than an emoji.
Deleting these emojis is good, but there are many more pressing tasks to curb tobacco use, and we hope the tobacco control associations will pay more attention to them.