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Protecting minors from tobacco products: public interest litigation enables enforcement in China
  1. Yuxian Cui1,
  2. Sihui Peng2,
  3. Lauren Czaplicki1,
  4. Tingzhong Yang3
  1. 1 Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  2. 2 School of Medicine, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China
  3. 3 Women’s Hospital/Center for Tobacco Control Research, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
  1. Correspondence to Dr Tingzhong Yang, Women’s Hospital/Center for Tobacco Control Research, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, 310006, Zhejiang, China; Tingzhongyang{at}

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To reduce access to and uptake of tobacco products among minors, national laws, such as the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Minors (LPM) and the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Tobacco Monopoly (LTM), stipulate that retail stores cannot sell tobacco products near primary or secondary schools, where local governments specify the exact distance between tobacco retailers and schools. Although such a location-based sales restriction could reduce youth exposure to tobacco,1 there remains a gap in the enforcement of this law in China. In this Advocacy in Action letter, we describe compliance with LPM and LTM provisions in one district of Beijing and the subsequent public interest litigation (PIL) case which can guide future tobacco control action in China and other countries.

Sales to minors in Beijing’s Haidian District

In the Haidian District of Beijing, local regulations stipulate that retail stores cannot sell tobacco within 100 m of primary and secondary schools. There are over 200 primary and middle schools in Haidian District. In May 2019, the Haidian Procuratorate–which oversees compliance with laws to protect minors from tobacco–investigated nearly 100 tobacco and alcohol retail stores located within 100 m of 30 schools.2 Procuratorate staff collected information on compliance with the following requirements under national and local law: the presence of a ‘no sales to minors’ sign, absence of any tobacco products sold at the store and absence of tobacco sales to a minor.2–4 Overall, nearly all tobacco retail operators were in violation of at least one requirement. Most of the operators failed to post signs in a prominent position that stated ‘No cigarette sells to minors’ and there was a notable number of brick-and-mortar stores that were located within 100 m of nine schools that sold tobacco products.2 In addition, auditors observed a substantial number …

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  • Contributors Conceptualisation—SP and TY. Writing—YC, LC, SP and TY. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript. TY is the guarantor responsible for the overall content.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.