Legal and health experts have urged China's regulators to fully implement a ban on tobacco advertisements at tobacco retailers.
In April, China's top legislature adopted an amendment to the 21-year-old Advertisement Law, banning tobacco advertising in public places and distributing any form of advertising to minors. The new law will take effect on Sept. 1.
A public place is generally an indoor or outdoor area for the public to use, whether privately or publicly owned, according to Yu Xiuyan, a research fellow at China University of Political Science and Law.
"Tobacco retail stores are unquestionably public places," Yu said during a seminar on the new advertisement law on Tuesday.
Angela Pratt, project leader of WHO's Tobacco Free Initiative in China, said advertising, if allowed in retail settings, will constitute a form of deliberate advertising to young people.
"Shops are obviously a public place that anyone can walk into. Any reasonable definition of 'public place' must include retail settings," she said.
In the past 30 days, 48.5 percent of middle school students said they had seen tobacco advertising; 41 percent of those who had walked into a tobacco store said they had seen advertising in there, according to Xiao Lin from the tobacco control office of China's Center for Disease Control (CDC).
As the world largest tobacco consumer and producer, China has more than 5.4 million registered tobacco retail stores, according to a 2013 report of the tobacco industry. The number of smokers reached 350 million by the end of 2014.
Data from the CDC shows that about 1.5 million people die from smoking related diseases every year in China.