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Surprising Science

How to Get Chinese Smokers to Stop

China is tobacco’s biggest stronghold. After years of working in vain, anti-smoking activists are trying a new tack in China: using economic rather than health and morality arguments.

What’s the Latest Development?

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.”


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