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Monday, 10 January, 2000, 16:18 GMT
'Opium' gets up China's nose

opium smoker Opium addiction was widespread 100 years ago


Opium is off the shelves in China - the authorities think the perfume's brand name could pollute the minds of the nation's youth.

The State Commercial and Industrial Department revoked the French scent's registration in late December, effectively banning sales.

The official Business Daily newspaper said the move followed consumer complaints about the brand name two years ago.

Shoppers in the south-western city of Chengdu complained the name was "spiritual pollution" and sent an inappropriate message to young people.

A spokeswoman for Guohangxin Technology Co Ltd, perfume manufacturer Yves Saint Laurent's agent in China, said the product had already been removed from shop shelves.


perfume Names such as Poison and Obession cause little concern
"All we can do is express regret, and we also feel it's very sudden."

The Guohangxin official said the move was "not very consistent with the country's entering the World Trade Organisation (WTO)".

The department investigated the matter after the manufacturer protested against a local ban on sales.

"Following investigation and assessment ... any meaning (of the word) will produce a bad social influence," the department said in its decision.

"According to rules in clause 27 of the People's Republic of China Brand Law, we believe this brand is unsuitable for registration."

Opium Wars

When Beijing attempted to ban imports of opium in 1839, Britain and then other Western nations attacked China to force it to open its markets. Opium addiction became widespread in China in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

The Guohangxin official said the name had not been chosen to hark back to the Opium Wars.

She would not reveal how much the company stood to lose.

The Italian fashion house Gucci, which owns YSL, refused to comment on the ban although reports suggest the perfume's sales in China are very small.

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