China stubs out smoking on TV shows
China has ordered films and TV shows to limit the amount of smoking in an effort to curb rampant tobacco use in the country, which has the largest number of smokers in the world.
The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television told producers to minimise plot lines and scenes involving tobacco and show smoking only when necessary for artistic purposes or character development.
Under-18s cannot be shown smoking or buying cigarettes, and characters may not smoke in public buildings or other places where smoking is banned.
Where possible, actors and directors are encouraged to leave smoking out of their productions.
The order does not mention entertainment imported from other nations. Hollywood blockbusters have had success in the Chinese market despite revenue quotas that effectively limit how many foreign productions are released.
China has been tightening up restrictions on smoking over the past decade, banning tobacco advertising and sponsorships of major sporting events
It is part of a slow realisation of the massive toll heavy tobacco use is taking on an ageing, increasingly urbanised population, with tobacco use linked to the deaths of at least a million people every year in China, where 300 million people, or nearly 30% of adults, smoke.
While numbers of smokers have remained flat for the past decade, mortality rates among them are rising fast.
If trends continue, by 2030 an estimated 3.5 million Chinese will die from smoking each year, according to a report issued last month by a group of prominent Chinese public health experts and economists.
The report cited China's failure to take basic measures such as passing a national law to ban smoking in indoor public places and raising the price of cigarettes.