Tobacco was first introduced in China in the late 16th century by merchants who visited Southeast Asia. Smoking tobacco quickly spread throughout all socioeconomic levels. The thriving market prompted the growth of numerous small family tobacco farms in China during the ensuing centuries and laid solid ground for the modern tobacco manufacturing industry. Today, tobacco is widely cultivated in 24 provinces in China, but Yunnan remains the leading supplying region of tobacco leaves for its favorable climate and soil.
China’s tobacco manufacturing and retail industry are under the control of the governmental monopoly, the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration. Also, the state-owned tobacco manufacturer, China National Tobacco Corporation, is the world’s largest cigarette producer and supplies more than 40 percent of global cigarettes. The tobacco industry is a cornerstone of China’s tax revenue and contributes to between six to ten percent of China’s financial income each year.
Smoking in China
In 2020, about a quarter of Chinese adults smoked, which was lower than the smoking prevalence in Europe as a whole. However, when divided by gender, the smoking rate rose by nearly 50 percent among Chinese men. The male smoking rate is also significantly higher than the female rate for teenage smokers. Smoking has emerged as one of the most severe threats to public health in China, which claims more than one million lives each year.
China has enacted a number of tobacco control legislation and rules since joining the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2006. In 2011, China published laws to ban smoking in 28 indoor public places, including restaurants, bars, and most public transit. Additionally, tobacco advertising in the media is outright forbidden. As a result of those policies, China’s smoker population saw a continuous decline in the past decade.
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Research expert covering e-commerce and FMCG in Greater China