Chinese Tobacco Industry is Hampering Anti-smoking Activities

Loss in productivity from smoking related illnesses will impede the China’s economic growth, and direct costs incurred by smoking greatly exceed the tobacco industry’s contribution what concerns returns and workplaces it assures.

Chinese Anti-smoking Activities

China’s dependence on big profits from the State-owned tobacco monopoly is hampering anti-smoking activities, implicitly affecting millions of lives in the country known for the largest number of smokers in the world. These findings were published in a report prepared by a group of public health experts, which came despite growing appeals for the government to provide stronger support to anti-smoking programs.

“As the health effects of smoking, including growing heart diseases and cases of lung cancer, progressively arise, unless there is an efficient government intervention, it will influence China’s overall economic growth because of the loss in productivity,” stated Yang Gonghuan, deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Yang is also a chief author of the report, Tobacco Control and the Future of China, which was created by common efforts of 60 experts.

Last year, China spent about 61.8 billion yuan ($9.3 billion) more to cure people from smoking-related diseases and handle tobacco related issues, as for example pollution, than tobacco manufacturers gained in revenues and offered workplaces,” Yang stated.

According to statistics, China is the world’s largest tobacco manufacturing and consuming country, with more than 300 million smokers.

Annually, approximately 1.2 million people die from smoking-related illnesses and this figure will continue to increase to 3.5 million by 2030, according to data presented by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The given report underlines growing concern that the country’s economic potential will be put at risk due to increasing medical costs and loss in productivity if the government refuses to undertake serious actions in order to eradicate smoking.

Xu Guihua, deputy director of the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control declared that the report was published days ahead of a deadline that China won’t meet being a member of WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Action to be taken before the deadline:

  • Prohibiting smoking in all public venues
  • A complete ban on tobacco-related advertising
  • and tobacco sponsorship

The FCTC was implemented in China on January 9, 2006 as a mandatory provision after being endorsed by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. But a quite big gap exists between China’s tobacco control measures and the FCTC’s requirements.

The number of smokers fell by 0.45 % annually between 2003 and 2010, in comparison to 0.9% between 1996 and 2002, according to the report.

“The Chinese government should apply many efforts in order to prevent smoking-related deaths. I think that it is the most important economic and health issue for the nation,” stated Jeffrey Koplan, vice-president for global health.

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