Tencent moves to stub out smoking emoji on leading Chinese social network QQ

Anti-tobacco group applauds change to ‘looking cool’ symbol as network takes a leaf out of Weibo’s book by removing cigarette

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 November, 2017, 5:11pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 November, 2017, 10:40am

QQ, one of China’s biggest social media platforms, has removed its smoking emoji in the latest example of the country’s tech giants moving to stub out the habit.

The Beijing Tobacco Control Association said it had written to QQ’s parent company Tencent and suggested it change the smoking emoji on its messaging applications, Beijing Youth Daily reported on November 6.

Without explanation, QQ replaced the cigarette with a leaf on the emoji, which also features a pair of sunglasses and military-style helmet.

The change is limited to QQ’s cellphone app and is not applicable to its computer versions. Apple and Android users will need to upgrade their software to see the new symbols.

Tencent did not immediately respond to the South China Morning Post’s request for comment.

In September, Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, made a similar change, citing “users’ comments” as the reason behind the replacement. It simply removed the cigarette.

China’s Twitter-like service stubs out its ‘cool’ smoking emoji

The Beijing Tobacco Control Association applauded the move and said it was urging other social networks, including WeChat, to follow this example.

“Smoking is not cool,” Zhang Jianshu, head of the association said. “It’s not appropriate to promote smoking as being cool.”

He hoped WeChat and other versions of QQ would take the same action soon, as young people were the main users of such social media platform.