Smoking poses challenge to Chinese government


The Global Times recently reported that 15 million teens light up in China, according to a 2008 report from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Excuses that range from “It helps me relax” to “All my friends do it,” give China’s 13 to 18 year olds reasons to buy cheap cigarettes.

I personally witnessed a young kid, most likely embarking on his teenage years, pressuring his friend to smoke at a bus stop. He teasingly waved the cigarette in front of his friend’s face, while the boy desperately tried to grab at it. As the bus pulled away, I wondered about these children’s fates, as tobacco gradually blackens their developing lungs. They would severely hurt their chances of ever becoming the next Yao Ming, and they probably won’t be able to run to catch the subway without breaking into a sweat.


What’s China doing to keep children from spreading the habit? A Beijing survey shows that every school has about two cigarette stands nearby with affordable prices, according to the Global Times. The Times also reports that the Ministry of Education plans to counteract this easy access by issuing a regulation banning smoking “in all schools and indoor spaces at universities.” However, I couldn’t find any other news articles to support this.

A quick online search reveals that China’s attempts to curb smoking in other indoor facilities for the last four years might finally come to a grand finale, granted people actually pay attention. China’s Ministry of Health announced that they will place a ban on smoking in all indoor public places, public transportation, work places, and other areas by January 2011. Read more about this proposition here.  The Ministry of Health prohibited smoking in their own office buildings beginning May 31, according to the People’s Daily.

Shanghai also recently enforced a city-wide smoking ban in public places, following Beijing’s lead, after the capital attempted to reduce the second-hand smoke during the Olympics. The Shanghaiist reports that penalties for breaking the new rules wouldn’t empty a pocketbook, being only 50 RMB to 200 RMB. A shocking 2009 viral picture of a toddler from Sichuan Province lighting up accompanies the article.

Low fines and lack of advertisement for these regulations cause tobacco-free advocates to worry that the message won’t get across soon enough, as the number of smokers on the mainland continues to rise. The Ministry of Health, with a miniscule tobacco control budget, also faces the political baggage of a State Tobacco Monopoly Administration that operates both as a government agency and a corporation.

One million deaths a year in China occur due to smoking-related illnesses, according to a recent PBS interview. But despite the gloom and doom, some still oppose the insistent efforts the Ministry of Health is making to break people’s habits, worrying that it will stunt China’s economic growth. Yang Gonghuan, director of China’s National Office of Tobacco Control, told the China Daily that the tobacco corporation’s influence on younger kids is also making it difficult to easily convince little ones that smoking is bad: “For instance, a primary school rebuilt after the Sichuan earthquake with funds from a tobacco company is named “Sichuan Tobacco Hope Primary School.”

Perhaps this is why those vapes and portable vaporizers(Check to learn more) are on the rise now. There is no doubt that it is a threat to tobacco companies as a lot of people observed that it is a healthier alternative and it’s a very good way to start the habit of quitting to smoke. Not to mention that you can circumvent laws on smoking ban, these devices are just starting to become the trend. The clock is ticking for China, as promising youngsters and adults risk their health and pollute the air in cities that are drawing more and more expats each year. Will the newest efforts work, or, like other attempts, go up in smoke?

  1. see, my name is more interesting than my posts. Love me long time

    1. Give it up, “whatever”. Your avatar still points to the very same witless, semi-literate petty-minded adolescent it did in the stray dogs thread. Different name, same pube.

  2. name card, stupid question, cigarette…my favorite introduction

    so does this mean cigarettes will stop being given as a gift at weddings, birthdays, spring fest, and for bribes? does this mean the very people trying to wipe out smoking in china will have to stop smoking as well? or do they continue to smoke wherever they like while wielding their power to avoid consequence?

    Educate on the consequences of smoking, provide resources for those who want to quit…let the people make up their own mind.

    1. Let the people make up their own mind????

      You haven’t been in China very long, have you!

  3. It’s tough to ban smoking in schools when all of the males teachers smoke. Especially to enforce a ban on smoking in all public places because the police and government officials are the ones most often smoking.

  4. The author goes from saying what these teenagers are doing wrong to what, if anything, government agencies are doing about it. There is nary a mention of the word “parents” nor “custodians” in the entire article, let alone what parents think about ~their~ (not China’s) teenage children smoking, or that the majority of these parents are even aware of it.

    The primary responsibility for the guidance of young children belongs to their parents, not the CCP, else they’ll end up as corrupt authoritarian mediocrities ordering people hither and thither and demanding they do this and do that for the rest of their useless lives.

  5. Dear author of this article:

    This question is paradoxical in nature. As you have mentioned, ALL TOBACCO/CIGARETTES SOLD IN CHINA is produced by a SOE (state-owned enterprise) Hence, the government is getting a cut out of every packet of domestic brand cigarettes sold. So why in the TARNATION (excuse the pun) would the Chinese government cut off the hand that feeds let alone its OWN HAND???? The health ministries warnings are nothing more than a formality.

    There’s a saying in china: NO BUSINESS GETS DONE WITHOUT ALCOHOL AND CIGARETTES. It’s a lifestyle in China get over it.

    Kids in Europe smoke up a storm no lie.(Especially Italy holy crap every kid smokes there when I was on vacation no lie)

  6. doesn’t smooking stunt your growth? thats not a good sign for a country that is quite obsessed with being tall.

  7. Cool….CCP (and Mr. Hu and Mr. Wen) finally found a solution to their population problem…pollute the water and air to shorten life expectancy and increase health defects with ‘good’ air


    give affordable ‘treats’ to comrades to make more money while saving money from not paying retirement benefits (since they won’t be there to collect)

    just like the forced birth control when Mao and Deng running the show…


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