China is about to adopt new anti-smoking legislation which is weaker than the previous proposed rules, public health advocates found from people familiar with the matter.
Lawmakers involved in the legislative effort said that the state-run tobacco industry pushed China’s cabinet to draft new legislation that would allow people smoke in enclaves in the public space.
In the previous form of the law, Beijing banned smoking in public spaces such as restaurants, offices, and public transportation and curbed on tobacco advertisement.
Healthcare advocates said that because the industry is a big part of the government, lawmakers won’t disclose the changes publicly. One consumer rights advocate noted that in China the tobacco industry doesn’t lobby to influence regulators, they are insiders of the legislative process.
Additionally, as smoking is rampant in China, the industry contributes a lot in tax revenue to the state. The State Tobacco Monopoly Administration which has control over the Chinese tobacco industry declined to comment on the reports.
The state monopoly which is dubbed China National Tobacco Corp. is the main supplier of cigarettes in China. Foreign cigarette makers are nearly invisible on the market. China National Tobacco currently holds a 98 percent market share.
In China, there are about 300 million active smokers. The state is the largest producer of cigarettes on the planet. But the industry is extremely profitable for the country too as it generates up to 10 percent of all tax revenues every year.
Anti-smoking group have pushed for a ban of smoking in public places and restrictions on the promotion of tobacco products for years. Cities such as Beijing have successfully set in place such legislation on a local level.
But when the national legislation comes out most cities will probably follow it.
The latest proposed rules nearly ban tobacco advertising in the country. Under the current rules it is illegal to place such ads in the media or public space. But it is permitted to display tobacco ads in private business locations such as stores and kiosks.
The updated draft also allows hospitals, schools, restaurants, and workplaces to design spaces for smokers, sources who saw the legislation said. But under the new rules, more money will be poured in projects to educate the youth about the dangers of smoking. Plus, there will be tougher fines.
Image Source: Flickr