In 2009, the Chinese government shut down social media networks such as twitter and established own short messaging services. The biggest of them – Sina Weibo – had more than 500 million registered users in 2013. Representatives of the national tobacco monopoly realized the opportunities of the new media to sidestep the existing advertisement restrictions. Today, famous cigarette brands and big tobacco factories hold their own Weibo accounts. Tailored to their target groups, smoking is communicated as integral part of traditional Chinese culture or as an expression of a modern, urban lifestyle. The National Health and Family Planning Commission also uses the micro blog service to spread quit smoking messages. Research of the agency China Policy shows, that neither pro- nor anti-tobacco messages trigger big response from Weibo users. In defiance of state censorship, contributions critical to managers and scientists working for China’s tobacco industry repeatedly appear in the internet.
Chinese Tobacco Industry Promotional Activity on the Microblog Weibo (2014)