China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of tobacco. The Chinese tobacco market is dominated by the government monopoly China National Tobacco Corporation (CNTC). CNTC holds 98 percent of the Chinese market. CNTC sold more than 2.1 trillion cigarettes in 2008.
China is the largest source of illicit cigarettes in the world, producing an estimated 400 billion counterfeit cigarettes every year. Ninety-nine percent of the United States illicit cigarette market and up to 80 percent of the European Union’s illicit cigarette market is supplied by China.
China ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on August 28, 2005 and the treaty went into effect on January 9, 2006.
Smoke-free environments: China does not have comprehensive national smoke-free legislation. Patchwork legislation bans smoking in specific places, such as on board airplanes. Sub-national jurisdictions have the authority to implement local smoke-free policies.
Advertising, promotion and sponsorship: A national law bans tobacco advertising on movie, television, radio, and in newspapers and magazines. Local jurisdictions have the authority to regulate outdoor tobacco advertising and some have banned it. Tobacco companies can advertise their products at point of sale, through sponsored events and branded schools, on billboards, online, and through extensive advertising of affiliated companies with the same names as tobacco brands.
Warning labels: Warning labels are text-only, employ small six point type, feature the same background color as the rest of the pack, and do not spell out specific health harms of smoking. They cover 30 percent of the pack, in Chinese on the front and English on the back. Tobacco companies are allowed to design their own labels as long as they meet the minimum requirements set by the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration.
Tobacco taxes and price: Taxes remain low, well below the 65 percent to 80 percent of retail price range recommended by the World Bank. Cigarettes have a wide price range, with the cheapest costing approximately US$0.30/pack and the most expensive costing as much as $80/pack. The most popular brands of cigarettes have become more affordable in China over time as personal incomes have risen while prices have remained low.
National Center for Chronic and NCD Disease Control and Prevention
Pioneers for Health Consultancy and Evaluation Center
China to Require Smoke-Free Public Places (March 30, 2011)
Tobacco Taxes in China [summary]
Based on Tobacco Taxation and Its Potential Impact in China by Teh-wei Hu, Zhengzhong Mao, Jian Shi, and Wendong Chen