Massive tobacco profits spark health concerns, prompt call for cigarette price hike

By Liu Xuanzun Source:Global Times Published: 2018/6/4 23:18:40

Massive tobacco profits create call for price hike

An alleged annual revenue of more than 1 trillion yuan ($156 billion) by the China National Tobacco Corporation has sparked a passionate debate among internet users about health versus profit.

The State-owned giant amassed more than 1.1 trillion yuan profit in 2016 - about as much as China's four major banks and two major gasoline companies combined - according to a We-media article on Sina Finance on Saturday, citing data released by Fortune China in 2017.

The number could not be verified by the Global Times. However, according to the official website of the China National Tobacco Corporation, Chinese tobacco generated a total 1.11 trillion yuan in taxes and profits in 2017.

But the We-media report sparked controversy on the internet as users questioned whether the massive tax and revenue was generated at the expense of people's health and some challenged the government to adjust the relevant policies.

More than 1.4 million Chinese die each year from smoking, according to a study published in UK-based medical journal The Lancet in 2016.

Health should be included in all the calculations, Xu Guihua, an expert at the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control, told the Global Times on Monday.

"The price of tobacco should be higher," Xu said. By raising the price, those with a lower income, especially young people, might smoke less, Xu said.

"And despite decreasing sales, the government would earn a higher revenue on each sale," she said.

In 2015, China's tobacco industry earned a 1.14 trillion yuan in taxes and profits, contributing 1 trillion yuan to national finances, according to the Hefei-based website of Tobacco Market in February.

To compare, total government income last year was more than 17 trillion yuan, news website reported in January.

Newspaper headline: Massive tobacco profits create call for price hike

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