Source:China DailyWeChat, the ubiquitous super app known as Weixin in China, has removed the image of a cigar in a popular emoji, years after an anti-smoking group warned that it complicated the fight against tobacco use among young people.The emoji called “commando” – showing a man wearing a helmet and sunglasses, with a lit cigar between his lips – is widely used by Weixin users to describe someone at ease or chilling. Internet giant Tencent Holdings, operator of the multipurpose social media platform, said it has removed the image of the cigar from that emoji, according to its post on microblogging site Weibo on Sunday.The makeover is expected to bolster anti-smoking initiatives in China, more than a year since the National Health Commission and seven other government agencies published tobacco control guidelines to prevent smoking among minors.It also comes years after the Beijing Tobacco Control Association (BTCA), along with cyberspace authorities, started a campaign in 2017 to remove images of smoking on domestic social media.The emoji on WeChat, was revised on February 28, 2021, to remove the image of a lit cigar.The ‘commando’ emoji on Tencent Holdings’ WeChat, known as Weixin in China, was revised on February 28, 2021, to remove the image of a lit cigar.The BTCA campaign was initiated by volunteers who raised concerns about the possible influence on minors of tobacco use depicted in emojis across domestic social media, according to association president Zhang Jianshu in a phone interview with the South China Morning Post on Monday.“We thought it was a little inappropriate for such highly used social media platforms to have emojis with images of smoking and relate these to concepts of ‘being cool’ or ‘chilling’,” Zhang said. “Those platforms have many young users, who might consider such emojis as advocating smoking.”Weibo and QQ, another social media platform operated by Tencent, removed the cigar image from their respective list of emojis in 2017.
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