Dancing cigarettes tell Wenzhou people not to smoke
The Wenzhou Business Daily is a commercial daily published in Zhejiang province, under the umbrella of the Wenzhou Daily Newspaper Group. Today’s front page features a picture of dancing cigarettes. In honor of international no tobacco day, they’re acting out the negative effects of cigarette smoking in a public square, in an effort by the Patriotic Sanitation Office of Lucheng District to encourage passers-by to give up smoking and refuse inhaling second-hand smoke. There is a history to this sort of patriotic public campaign that tries to change people’s behavior and promote sanitary practices in China. These were present all throughout the Maoist years, and were actually initiated during the Nationalist era by Chiang Kai-Shek and his wife. They hoped to bring China into the modern era by changing society at the individual level. In contemporary China, they’re a frequent occurrence.
Inside the paper, the corresponding headline about dancing cigarette mascots reads: “80% of smokers do not know about the international no tobacco day.” Public no-smoking signs have had little effect, with the uncomfortable truth that these can only advice people and are not easily enforceable. The city has been implementing a number of anti-smoking measures in the past year, but none, the article explains, seem to have had much success. A prohibition against smoking indoors has not been observed, an anti-smoking clinic was left empty and had no positive effect on the population, and inspectors sent out to ensure the anti-smoking rules were being obeyed frequently suffered the embarrassment of blatant disobedience to the rules.
It seems the Wenzhou Business Daily is on a bit of a health kick, because another headline to the right of the dancing cigarettes reads, “How much alcohol can you drink a day before harming your health? The latest research: no more than 5 grams.” The article cites recent findings by the Oxford University British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Group that says healthy consumption of alcohol should be limited to the equivalent of 124 ml of beer, or a quarter cup of red wine per day. The average British person, the article points out, drinks much more than this. If only they would abide by these guidelines for moderate drinking, 4,500 British lives could be saved each year. The article draws no links to what these numbers mean for China.