BEIJING: The govt of China has decided to raise cigarette taxes in order to boost prices and avert smoking, an official said here the other day, amid a push by the nation of 300 million smokers to crack down on the habit.
The National Health and Family Planning Commission have joined with other government agencies to lobby for an increase in tobacco taxes, commission spokesman Yao Hongwen said here the other day. Reforms to China’s tax and fiscal controls provide a “rare chance to take advantage to raise tobacco taxes and prices for tobacco control,” Yao said.
Tobacco taxes were raised in 2009 but not by enough to affect the prices. Tobacco companies absorbed the increase, and the change didn’t have the desired effect of discouraging smoking.
Packs of cigarettes in China cost as little as $1 or $2 for low-end brands, compared with prices that range from $5 to $15 in the United States.
The city of Beijing took the lead last month by announcing a ban on all indoor smoking to take effect next June, backed by heavy fines.
The central government has drafted a similar nationwide ban that would strengthen bans on advertising, mandate more prominent health warnings on packaging and limit the portrayal of smoking in movies and on television.
About 740 million Chinese are exposed to second-hand smoke, and lung cancer kills more than 1.3 million people in the country each year, one-third of the global total, according to the World Health Organization.