China's chances, China's choices in global tobacco control
- Correspondence to Professor Ruth E Malone, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, 3333 California Street, Suite 455, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA;
Contributors RM wrote the editorial.
Long viewed by tobacco companies as a ‘prize’ market because of its huge population,1 China trails most other countries in implementing strong, effective tobacco control policies. Advertising still proliferates, workplaces are not widely smoke-free, and cigarette taxes, while increased modestly, remain ineffectively designed for tobacco control purposes. Meanwhile, some one million Chinese people die yearly from tobacco-caused diseases.2
Yet with its giant state-owned tobacco industry and very limited competition, the Chinese government could relatively easily make China the global leader in public health rather than the global leader in profiting from its own people's disease and death. One way to do this would be to raise taxes at the consumer level to an amount significant enough to reduce consumption, as suggested by a paper in this issue of Tobacco Control, 3 and to dedicate those taxes to programmes that change social norms about tobacco and help people to quit.
China's chances of doing so, however, depend on shifting the perspectives of those leaders who still view cigarette smoking as an accepted everyday practice, many of whom are …