Why do so few take China’s campaign against cigarettes seriously? The very government promising to crack down on tobacco use is the owner and chief beneficiary of the $93 billion industry, writes Willian Wan. “China’s struggle over smoking embodies a key dilemma facing its government: balancing the state’s obsession with economic growth with the appearance of looking out for the public interest.”
What’s the Big Idea?
After years of working in vain, anti-smoking activists say they must move their fight away from simplistic arguments over health and morality and into the arena that matters most in modern China: economics. The head of the Tobacco Control Office and some of China’s most prominent economists, plus international experts, have produced an attention-grabbing study on the social cost of tobacco. “Factoring in the cost of health-care and lost productivity from dying smokers, the report argued that the long-term expenses of tobacco outweigh its short-term gains.”