Beijing Tobacco Control Association Applauded Weibo’s Withdrawal of Smoking Emoji

Weibo withdrew the emoji that represents “cool” from the emoji stickers of its international version, indicating the phase-out of “smoking emoji” from Weibo’s mobile client and PC client. Beijing Tobacco Control Association (BTCA) applauded this act and urged Tencent to follow suit as soon as possible.

“Ku” originated from “cool” of foreign culture, meaning “awesome, fashionable, or enviable”. Yet, Zhang Jianshu, the chairman of BTCA, said: “Smoking is not cool at all, and any attempt to advertise that smoking is cool is improper. We appreciate Weibo’s withdrawal of the smoking emoji.”

It is said that once the staff from BTCA found Weibo’s smoking emoji, they immediately communicated with Weibo on it. “Smoking is not awesome, fashionable, or enviable. Actually, smoking is a symptom that reflects the smokers’ dependence on tobacco and it might also result in other problems, including malignant tumor and other diseases, abnormalities in reproduction and growth. It is clearly wrong to associate the suicidal act with “cool”.” BTCA told Weibo.

In addition, China is a big consumer of tobacco. According to a survey of Chinese Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 20% middle school students have tried tobacco, which indicates smoking is rife among youngsters. According to a study, currently two thirds of young male smoke, most of whom started smoking before 20. To equate smoking with “cool” is somewhat misleading youngsters into smoking since young people are the main users of social media.

Regulation of Beijing Municipality on the Control of Smoking came into effect On June 1, 2015. It bans smoking in all indoor public places, workplaces and public transport vehicles. BTCA holds that to equate smoking with “cool” is not in line with the general trend of society since smoke-free environment has drawn consensus.

“As China’s largest social network, Weibo’s immediate withdrawal of “smoking emoji” reflects its awareness of social responsibility and concerns for users’ health. So we praise this act.”

“One of our main duties is to purify the capital’s Internet environment. Weibo’s act helps to block illegal or harmful information, thus cultivating a positive environment for teenage netizens. Social network can do a lot in disseminating the harm of tobacco, promoting healthy lifestyle, and realizing the goals of Healthy China 2030.” Office of Beijing for Cyberspace Affairs said.

Meanwhile, BTCA wrote a letter to Tencent, pointing out it is improper to equate “smoking emoji” with “cool” on QQ and Wechat and calling for an end to this. In Shenzhen where Tencent is headquartered, smoking ban came into force since January 1, 2017. With a deeper understanding about the harm of tobacco and the construction of a smoke-free environment, smoking is no longer “normal”. “We urge Tencent to withdraw the “smoking emoji” as soon as possible.” said BTCA in the letter.

Zhang Jianshu said “not only should smoking emoji be history in social network, but also smoking in public places should be history.”


This article originally appeared in Beijing Youth Daily and was translated by Pandaily.

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