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World Health Organization Tobacco Tax Increase in China Reduced Smoking Slightly

In the year since China’s Ministry of Finance announced an increase in tobacco taxes, tobacco prices throughout the country are up and consumption is down, albeit slightly, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement.

“Following the tax increase announced on May 8 last year and a series of other tobacco control policy developments, WHO estimates that the total number of cigarettes sold in China fell by 3.3 percent between April 2015-March 2016, compared to the same period (April 2014-March 2015) the previous year,” said Dr Bernhard Schwartländer, WHO Representative in China.

This decrease in consumption included a 5.5 percent reduction in total sales of the cheapest class of cigarettes, indicating that the tax has impacted those with lowest incomes most. This is good news, Schwartländer said, as the lowest-income groups in China are most profoundly affected by the health and economic burdens as a result of smoking.

A further increase in tobacco tax is what will further decrease smoking in China, he suggested.

“We must build on last year’s reform to take more steps towards reducing tobacco consumption through further tax increases – because the higher the price, the more lives that will be saved,” Dr Schwartländer said.

We’re all for this, especially if it means that Beijing’s office toilet cubicles and lifts will finally stop being smoking areas for all.

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