China has become world’s fastest growing tobacco consumer market: report

A report has found that China has become the fastest growing tobacco consumption market in the world, though industry authorities have taken measures, such as raising tax on tobacco, to control the trend, Worker’s Daily reported on Jan. 2.

The country substantially lifted tax on cigarettes in 2009 and 2015, respectively, but the high prices were far from enough to cool the demand.

According to statistics, tax on cigarettes in China accounts for 59 percent of the sales price, but it is still less than the global average of 75 percent.

The payment capability of Chinese smokers grew by 85 percent from 2001 to 2016, and even doubled among low-end consumers, according to Zheng Rong, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics.

In addition, the smoking incidence of low-income groups is higher than high-income ones, and rural residents smoke more than urban people, according to Zheng’s report.

The smoking rate of the country’s 200-million-plus floating population is higher than other people.

Hu Angang, a professor with Tsinghua University, said higher incidence of smoking in poverty-stricken areas and poor families is the main cause of poverty reoccurrence due to the treatment of tobacco-related diseases.

Global experience has indicated that raising tax on tobacco can effectively reduce the use of tobacco and cut public health expenditures, Zheng said, calling for higher cigarette prices to reduce smoking among low-income smokers.

With 316 million smokers, China has grown to become the largest tobacco market in the world. Data provided by Hu found that 6.4 million deaths could be attributed to smoking in 2015.

Treatment of tobacco-related diseases caused 53 billion yuan of direct losses and 297 billion yuan of indirect losses for China in 2014, according to statistics. The total of the two accounted for 10.59 percent of that year’s national health expenditures.

In recent years, China has rolled out a strict ban on smoking in more than 20 cities, but the campaign covers less than 10 percent of the whole country, which is far from being effective.

Jiang Yuan, deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Tobacco Control Office, said raising the price and tax on tobacco is one way to control smoking.

[ Editor: WPY ]


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