China is the biggest tobacco market worldwide. The Chinese consumed 2,163 billion cigarettes in 2007 alone. A paradise for international tobacco companies, one might think. However, tobacco is a state monopoly in the country. A fact that makes the fight for more tobacco control very difficult. If the tobacco industry is the state, anti-tobacco activists can easily become enemies of the state.
We recommend the article “Yunnan’s tobacco boom: Poisonous gift – In China’s south-west, a smoker’s paradise” in the new issue of The Economist (28th January 2012). It provides background information on history, economy and the culture of tobacco smoking in China.