The tax on cigarettes should be increased to combat nicotine addiction in the world’s largest tobacco producer and consumer, the World Health Organization chief said.
Director General Margaret Chan called for more taxes on Wednesday after the ceremony the Minister of Health Chen Zhu, a certificate in recognition of his efforts to combat smoking. “There is still much room for China to increase its tobacco tax, and the government should take additional steps with respect to this, to curb smoking,” she told China Daily.
“Experience shows that higher taxes to keep people, especially young people from smoking,” she said. International studies show that a 1% increase in the price of a pack of cigarettes, the number of smokers is reduced by about 0.4%, she said.”Every time I came to China and had the opportunity to talk with Chinese leaders, I encouraged them to increase taxes on tobacco products,” she added.
There is a huge financial cost of treating tobacco-related disease, Chan said. China has 350 million smokers; more than one-third of the world, and at least 1 million people die from smoking-related diseases every year, according to the ministry. By 2020, the rate of deaths is expected to reach 2 million, without effective intervention.
Government agencies such as ministries of health and education, have introduced policies such as smoking in hospitals and schools, as well as bans on smoking in most indoor public places. Tobacco products were also sent to the tax. In 2009, the government increased the tax on tobacco products for at least 6%, mainly on the more expensive brands.
“But it has little effect on curbing tobacco use, especially with the low-end brands,” said Yang Gonghuan, former director of the Office of Tobacco Control, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Taxes on tobacco products, even after raising interest rates remain very low on a global scale. “Countries are looking at how to increase the tax on tobacco products, and China must also raise the tax on their circumstances,” said Chan. China signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and ratified it in 2005.
The campaign to combat nicotine addiction falls under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which oversees the state monopoly of tobacco bureau, often referred to as the China
National Tobacco Corporation
Chen suggested that the implementation of the Framework should be carried out by the Ministry of Health. “I’d give the award of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, to encourage them,” she said. Vice-Premier Li Keqiang met Chan in Beijing on Wednesday.
Lee Chang congratulated her second term as Director-General of WHO, which was announced in May. Chan praised the progress of China’s medical reform, which, incidentally, saw the health insurance increase from 30% to 95% of residents over the past five yea