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Smoking and social stability

NPC delegates consider the tough issues facing China - image from Do Not Associate
China's annual convening of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference is usually described as "the meeting of China's parliament" in the Western media and as the "Two Meetings" (两会) in the Chinese media.

The event is a source of frustration for journalists who have to cover it, because it's essentially a rubber stamp affair where nothing exciting happens. It's also a bit a bore for the delegates who attend the meetings, as illustrated by the photo on the left of sleeping NPC delegates. Which is why the most interesting reporting to come out of the annual snoozefest is usually of the 'weird news' variety.

Such as this Reuters story:

Smoking curb could "upset China stability"

China's stability could be threatened if the government tried to curb smoking, a senior official said on Wednesday at a discussion of the annual meeting of parliament.

"Smoking harms people's health, but restraining smoking threatens social stability," said Zhang Baozhen, deputy chief of the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration.

"Smokers rioted when the former Soviet Union collapsed because they could not get any cigarettes... The principle applies in China as well," Zhang said, responding to proposals from some members of China's parliamentary advisory body to curtail the smoking industry.

"As a developing country, China still needs the tobacco industry," Zhang said...

The tobacco industry contributed 80 billion yuan ($10.33 billion) per day in tax to the country last year, Zhang said.

..."With the development of modern technology, we can reduce the harm of smoking by lowering the toxic ingredients in cigarettes," the official said.

There's an opinion piece in response to this on (in Chinese), in which the author says that the talk of threatening social stability is nonsense, because it was not an outright ban being proposed, but rather curbs on availability of cigarettes and public places where they may be smoked.

UPDATE:As pointed out in the comments, the number quoted above for tax revenues from cigarettes in China — 80 billion yuan ($10.33 billion) per day — seems highly improbable.

There are currently 7 Comments for Smoking and social stability.

Comments on Smoking and social stability

love the photo.

China's leaders, hard at work.

USD 10.3 billion per day in tax?

Highly doubt that figure somehow...

The figures I have seen for smokers in China are that about a quarter of the population smoke, i.e. over 300 million people. If each othem contributes half a yuan a day in taxes (I just made that number up), then we have 150 million yuan a day in tobacco tax revenues. That's around USD 18 million...

I think Bobby is right, the number cannot be that high.

Here is an old source:

Cigarette taxation in China

"For instance, in 1992, the total government tax revenue was Y329.7 ($54.9) billion; the cigarette tax revenue that same year was Y31.0 ($5.2) billion. Thus, cigarette taxes raised 9.4% of total government revenues. Clearly this tax represents a major source of government revenue."

In 1992, it was USD 5.2 billion for the whole year. That does make the 10.3 billion per day figure seem unlikely. Either the official is confused or Reuters has not yet figured out how to translate 千万 into English. 10.3 million dollars a day is perhaps what they meant?

USD 10.3 billion per day is definitely too high.

In 2005, the total government tax revenue of tobacco industry was about RMB 240 billion.

(240 billion/365 days)=0.658 billion per day.

for 1$=7.741RMB,
it's 0.084942 billion
0.084942x1000=>84,942 mio.$

=>about $85 mio per day for 2005
so 金玉米,maybe that's $103,3 mio。 you mean for the 2006.

Liquor taxes were once the US government's largest source of income. But when an income tax was established, it was no longer significant. China will also find some other source of revenue.

Nick Kasoff

It would seem that tobacco industries of every country are trying to come up with novel ways to justify their doings. But then again, it's still the demand that is driving their supply of tobacco products, not unlike the flow of drugs into the US to satisfy the demand.

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