By Erik Crouch
Image via @furioshots http://www.flickr.com/photos/furioshots/7064354343/
China’s cigarette smokers sucked down 40% of the world’s supply last year, a phlegmy 5% more than in 2006. The Chinese government plans to fight this trend with upcoming legislation that would outlaw smoking in most public places throughout mainland China and ban all advertisements, promotions, and sponsorships by tobacco companies (including the now discredited rumors of a Mo Yan smoking advertisement). The government’s goal is to cut China’s number of smokers down to 25%, about the same as the United States.
China’s plans have been criticized for not being strong enough. The new anti-smoking policies do not include graphic photos of health warnings on packs of cigarettes, which are prevalent throughout most countries that have tried to cut back. Also, the new legislation does not involve a tax increase on cigarettes, a point that detractors say weakens its impact. Left largely unmentioned during these policy debates is the country’s smoking gender imbalance, as cigarette consumption is specifically a male problem: 60% of Chinese men smoke, compared to just 4.2% of women.
Nevertheless, these male tobacco connoisseurs will have a hell of a time lighting up in public parks next year, assuming the smoking plan really goes into effect.