Before signing the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2002, cigarette production was at 1.75 trillion per year in China. During the WHO assessment report in 2012, they found the number had doubled to 2.58 trillion. Ouch.
In that same assessment report, China was only awarded two of a possible 16 points for its smoking ban in public places, mostly schools and hospitals, while its curb on tobacco advertising won absolutely nothing–and you could still probably get away with smoking in a hospital if you really tried.
The tobacco industry in China is still a large contributor to fiscal revenue, generating 864.9 billion yuan ($141.9 billion USD) in taxes and 716.7 billion yuan for the State treasury last year. This is probably part of the reason for the country’s overall hesitancy to comply with WHO’s stringent anti-tobacco policies. In fact, many local governments still encourage residents to develop the industry, as a way to contribute to local economy.
Wang Ke’an, director of the WHO research center, said that while the Chinese government signed the convention and made promises to curb both tobacco use production, the have fallen way behind many of other signatory members.
When 9 in 10 children can correctly identify cigarette logos, I’d say China has a long way to go before they completely satisfy the WHO.
By Lauren Holdcroft
[Image via Todd Mecklem]