Last year the economic cost of smoking to China was higher than 70 billion, producing a country with the largest tobacco problems in the world.
The government has to reduce consumption by increasing the price of cigarettes, now only at 5 yuan per packet of 20, which would assure its tax revenue, according to a report presented by the country’s tobacco control lobby.
It is a purposeful attack of the State Tobacco Monopoly and China National Tobacco Company, which has recently announced record results. In 2010, the state-owned concern’s profits constituted 604.5 billion yuan, more than 253 billion in 2006, and taxes paid to the state increased to 498.8 billion yuan from 194.4 billion.
According to the report the health costs of treating tobacco related diseases surpassed tax revenue from tobacco for the first time in 1999 and the deficiency has been rising annually since then, attaining 70 billion yuan last year.
“Tobacco related medical expenses and loss of productivity are increasing by the year at an expanding rate. The complex survey demonstrates that the net benefit produced by the tobacco industry is already lower than zero,” report stated.
At present, 1.2 million people die of tobacco-related illnesses, a third of whom are aged between 40 and 70.
The given report proposes a 20-year plan in order to make some changes in smoking habits. This plan proposes to increase taxes on tobacco products, which would reduce consumption but at the same time maintain government revenue.
“150 million, 50% of smokers, purchase one pack of cigarettes for five yuan and the costs for 100 packs constituted approximately 2% of per capita GDP in 2009. For instance a pack of cigarettes in Hong Kong costs US$6.41. In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has increased the price of cigarettes to US$11 per packet.
Last year more than 300 million of China’s people smoked, practically the same as in 2002. The proportion of smokers among workers constituted 68%, farmers 60%, civil servants 52% and teachers 38%.
Beijing endorsed the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2005, but failed to comply with the convention, including a demand to prohibit smoking from all indoor public places.
The interference of the tobacco industry underlines the bad impact of tobacco control. It has abused the public powers of government to oppose tobacco control policies, using low tar and low harm marketing strategies in order to trick and advertise tobacco use.
A survey conducted by anti-smoking agency demonstrated that more than 75% didn’t know the health hazards of smoking.
The report proposes to organize government in a different way, so that the government that includes the tobacco industry does not have any powers to control tobacco.