China Planning Tobacco Tax Increase

The authorities in China are planning to increase the national tobacco tax in the hope of persuading more smokers to quit their habit, according to a Want China Times story quoting the Chinese-language Beijing News.

The story said it was likely that the authorities would follow recommendations set by the World Health Organization, which says the excise tax on tobacco should be at least 70 per cent of the retail price.

Cui Li, deputy director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, confirmed the central government was planning to introduce measures that would include increasing taxes in an attempt to prevent the nation’s younger generation from becoming smokers.

Figures from the commission suggested there were about 300 million smokers in China, and about 740 million non-smokers at risk from second-hand smoke.

About 1.2 million to 1.4 million people died of smoking-related diseases each year in the country.

Echoing Cui, Yang Gonghuan, a professor at Peking Union Medical College, said increasing the tobacco tax was the easiest and most efficient way to curb tobacco consumption. While most Chinese smokers were not suffering from any financial problems, increasing the tax would have the effect of getting them to cut back on their habit, he said.

However, Li Baojiang, director of the Tobacco Business Research Institute’s Policy Research Department, said the tax-raising policy would encourage more tobacco smuggling and result in more counterfeit cigarettes that would be even more harmful to smokers’ health than were genuine products. Enditem