The Tobacco Atlas Prepares China to Take on Big Tobacco

Courtesy of The World Lung Foundation

Yesterday, the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation released the Chinese language version of the third edition of The Tobacco Atlas. The Tobacco Atlas, now available globally in several languages, helps governments take action to reduce tobacco usage and spread awareness about the harms it causes.

China’s tobacco usage statistics are startling. A whopping 300 million people, including 53% of all Chinese men, are smokers. China is the world’s leading consumer and producer of tobacco products. The country consumes more than 37% of the world’s cigarettes!  And, according to The Tobacco Atlas, tobacco-related health issues and premature deaths cost the Chinese government 5 BILLION U.S. dollars EACH YEAR!

In 2005, the Chinese government ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a global public health treaty that addresses strategies to reduce the supply and demand of tobacco.  The Tobacco Atlas highlights marked progress China has made in fulfilling its treaty commitments and outlines further steps to implement the next series of treaty commitments by January 2011. Many of these steps are common practice here in the United States. They include:

  • Banning all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. International best practice, as outlined in The Tobacco Atlas, includes ensuring there are no exceptions to such bans because the tobacco industry will redirect its marketing to areas not covered by the ban.
  • Banning smoking in all workplaces and public places to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Protecting tobacco control policy from tobacco industry influence, recognizing the fundamental conflicts of interest between public health and tobacco business. This obligation poses a special challenge for China, whose State Tobacco Monopoly Administration is a part of the Government.

Facts from The Tobacco Atlas:

Consumption of tobacco can cause serious economic losses – about US $500 billion globally.

  • The Chinese tobacco market is dominated by the China National Tobacco Corporation (CNTC), and its sales account for one-third of the global market.
  • Because 25 percent of smokers die and many more become ill during their most productive years, this lost income devastates families and communities.
  • Cigarettes are the world’s most widely smuggled legal consumer product. In 2006, about 600 billion smuggled cigarettes made it to the market, representing an enormous missed tax opportunity for governments.
  • Tobacco replaces potential food production on almost 4 million hectares of the world’s agricultural land, equal to all of the world’s orange groves or banana plantations. More than a quarter of this land, about 1.4 million hectares, can be found in China.
  • In developing countries, smokers spend disproportionate sums of money relative to their incomes that could otherwise be spent on food, education, healthcare and other necessities.
  • Population growth in low and middle-income countries is expanding the overall number of smokers even though prevalence may be decreasing in some places.

About The Tobacco Atlas, Third Edition

The Tobacco Atlas, Third Edition was previewed in 2009 at the World Conference on Tobacco OR Health in Mumbai, India. An updated version was released in August 2009 at the LIVESTRONG Global Cancer Summit in Dublin, Ireland. The Spanish version has also been published and released in Mexico City, Mexico. For more information on how to obtain a copy of the book or download book PDF files, please visit TobaccoAtlas.org. Data contained within The Tobacco Atlas are gathered from multiple sources and validated to ensure they present a holistic and accurate picture of tobacco and tobacco control across the globe.

asserts the importance of demand reduction strategies as well as supply issues.
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