tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.

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China struggles to impose a full tobacco ban. But marginal increases in the tobacco tax are not the only reason for ineffective tobacco control in China

The tax increase on tobacco products that went into effect last month has had no impact on Zhou Chengli, a 63-year-old Beijing resident. On the evening of June 27, walking out of a community store with a carton of cigarettes in hand, he told a reporter that he started smoking in his teens and hasn’t stopped since. This hardened smoker finishes a pack a day, despite the warning on the package that smoking is harmful. In his pockets, there might be no money, but there are always cigarettes and lighters.

The Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation jointly released a circular in early June raising the tax on cigarettes. According to the circular, the consumption tax on cigarettes priced at 100 yuan ($14.64) per carton or above would increase from 45 percent to 56 percent; the consumption tax on cigarettes priced below 100 yuan would increase from 30 percent to 36 percent; and the tax on cigars would increase from 25 percent to 36 percent. The new policy also imposes a 5-percent tax on cigarette wholesalers nationwide.

But the policy seems to have had no serious impact on the retail price of cigarettes so far. Since prices haven’t changed, Zhou can still buy cigarettes at the same price as before.
The China Association on Tobacco Control (CATC) has suggested the government increase the tobacco tax by a large margin so as to push up prices of tobacco products. The association believes that increasing cost is one of the most effective ways to reduce the smoking rate, especially among consumer groups sensitive to price, such as young people. Established in 1990, the CATC, an academic and non-profit organization, is composed of volunteers from various industries. The volunteers often go to public places to exhort people to give up smoking. Since the government raised the tobacco tax by only a small margin this time and did not push up cigarette prices, many people think this action is not meant to reduce the number of smokers, but purely to increase fiscal revenue.

Jia Kang, Director of the Research Institute for Fiscal Science in the Ministry of Finance, thinks the tax increase will ultimately affect consumers, otherwise it would be of no significance to public health.

But marginal increases in the tobacco tax are not the only reason for ineffective tobacco control in China.

Small achievements

According to figures from the Ministry of Public Health and the CATC, there are currently 350 million smokers in China, meaning one out of three Chinese is a smoker. Of the total number of smokers, 180 million are young people. Furthermore, 540 million Chinese are passive smokers who are involuntarily exposed to tobacco smoke. Every year 5.4 million people die from tobacco-related diseases worldwide, with 1 million of those in China, which is a larger number than the combined number of deaths from AIDS, tuberculosis, traffic accidents and suicide, and accounts for 12 percent of total deaths.

This situation makes the Chinese Government attach great importance to tobacco control, actively supporting and participating in the formulation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) of the World Health Organization. The convention became effective in China as of January 9, 2006, and will be comprehensively implemented across the country by 2011.

Statistics released by the CATC show that in the past two years China has been strengthening its efforts in tobacco control.

From 2007 to 2008, China ran a campaign promoting a “tobacco-free Olympic Games” in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Shenyang, Qingdao and Qinhuangdao.

On May 1, 2008, Provisions on the Scope of No-Smoking Public Places in Beijing came into effect, expanding the public smoking ban into the workplace and granting the owners of public places the right to carry out the decree and protect the public from tobacco harm. At the same time, the provisions also gave every citizen the right to refuse secondhand smoke. Cities like Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Shenyang have also begun the process of banning tobacco in public places. Now Beijing is evaluating the results of the ban in the past year and preparing to revise and improve the policy.

Although China got a late start in tobacco control, it is the general trend to legislate tobacco bans in public places and it enjoys wide public support.
The Chinese Government is also promoting the formulation of the Smoking Control Law, which is expected to be unveiled in the near future. Currently there is no national law for tobacco control in China.

Reality check

In spite of these efforts, tobacco consumption in China remains a pressing issue.

China comes first in the world in eight tobacco-related areas: sowing area of flue-cured tobacco, output volume of flue-cured tobacco, growth speed of flue-cured tobacco, production and sales volume of cigarettes, growth speed of cigarette sales, number of smokers, growth in the number of smokers and growth of tobacco tax revenue. China also ranks first in the world in terms of death rates from tobacco-related diseases.

Beijing is one Chinese city that has done fairly well in tobacco control. The Research Center for the Health Development (RCHD), a think tank, held a seminar on accelerating a full tobacco ban on June 16 in Beijing, inviting public health experts to comment on the first year of the municipal public smoking ban. The experts said that although Beijing has made some progress, there are still many deficiencies.

According to the experts, judging from the experience of the past year, the primary problem is that the public and workplace tobacco bans are not enforced.

A survey of Internet bars led by public health expert Zeng Guang showed that 21 percent of netizens in Internet bars are smokers and that none of the surveyed bars have a separate smoking room or smoking area. In all the bars there are people smoking but no bar operators dissuade them.

The RCHD has also organized public and private investigations at universities, primary and middle schools and public places, finding that the tobacco ban in restaurants is poorly implemented. In some schools, especially middle schools, there are teachers smoking, and some students are smokers too; and stores near schools never refuse students who want to buy cigarettes.

Another deficiency is that there is no supervision mechanism. Who is responsible for supervising the tobacco ban in public places? Who is responsible for supervising it in the workplace? Who is supposed to supervise the responsible persons? How should authorities punish those who smoke in public places and who is supposed to enforce the punishment? None of this is stated in the provisions.

In the meantime, the experts point out that the present interim measure of setting up smoking rooms or smoking areas has been a failure. According to the interim measure, many restaurants in Beijing have divided into smoking areas and non-smoking areas, but in effect they have created a smoking area and a secondhand smoking area, and the non-smoking area does not exist. Moreover, the establishment of a smoking room does not necessarily reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. Even in modern airport terminals, smoking room doors are always open.

Tobacco ban troubles also result from misunderstandings among smokers. Many of them think that smoking can reduce fatigue, revitalize them, help them make friends or inspire them. Some smokers even think that smoking wards off mosquitoes and protects against diseases by combating poison with poison.

Some local governments are passive in tobacco control, because tobacco and tobacco products generate huge tax and fiscal revenues and push up their GDP growth, while tobacco control would reduce local fiscal revenue.

According to statistics released by the Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation, in 2008, the tobacco industry generated 450 billion yuan ($66 billion) in taxes and profits, up 15.73 percent year on year.

Figures from the State Tobacco Monopoly Bureau show that in 2009, taxes and profits contributed by the tobacco industry will grow more than 10 percent. This is in striking contrast to the goals of tobacco control.

The FCTC will be implemented in China by 2011, which means that in the next 18 months China has to fulfill its commitment to a full tobacco ban in indoor workplaces, public transport facilities and indoor public places. This will be an important test for a country that has seen only limited success so far.
© Copyright: Bjreview

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