Global Epidemic



  • 28 percent of adults in China smoke.
  • Smoking rates are much higher among men than women; an estimated 53 percent of men and 2 percent of women smoke.
  • Among 14 year olds, 11 percent of boys and 3 percent of girls smoke.

Health Consequences

  • In China, approximately 1.3 million smokers die each year from tobacco-related diseases, and approximately 100,000 people die each year from exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • If current trends continue, China’s death toll from tobacco will reach 3.5 million per year by 2030.

Tobacco Industry

China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of tobacco. The Chinese tobacco market is dominated by the government monopoly China National Tobacco Corporation (CNTC). CNTC holds 97 percent of the Chinese market. CNTC sold more than 2.4 trillion cigarettes in 2011.

Illicit Trade

China is the largest source of illicit cigarettes in the world, producing an estimated 400 billion counterfeit cigarettes every year. Ninety-nine percent of the United States illicit cigarette market and up to 80 percent of the European Union’s illicit cigarette market is supplied by China.

FCTC Status

China ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on August 28, 2005 and the treaty went into effect on January 9, 2006.

Tobacco Control Policy Status

Smoke-free environments: China does not have a comprehensive national smoke-free law. Legislation bans smoking in specific places. The Tobacco Monopoly Law requires that smoking be prohibited or restricted in public places and public transportation in general, and the MOH Regulations prohibit smoking in the 28 indoor public places. Sub-national jurisdictions have the authority to implement local smoke free policies.

Advertising, promotion and sponsorship: A national law bans tobacco advertising on movie, television, radio, and in newspapers and magazines. Local jurisdictions have the authority to regulate outdoor tobacco advertising and some have banned it. Tobacco companies can advertise their products at point of sale, through sponsored events and branded schools, on billboards, online, and through extensive advertising of affiliated companies with the same names as tobacco brands.

Warning labels: Warning labels are text-only, use small 6 point type, feature the same background color as the rest of the pack, and do not spell out specific health harms. Tobacco companies are allowed to design their own labels as long as they meet the minimum requirements set by the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration. Effective April 2012, a China National Tobacco Corporation notice required companies to abolish the English warning, enlarge the font to 4mm, and require the color shading between the text and the warning background to be obviously different. The CNTC notice is a self-regulation and not a legal enactment.

Tobacco taxes and price: Tobacco taxes remain low and the most popular brands of cigarettes are cheap. Government increased tobacco taxes in May 2009 but ordered the tobacco industry to absorb the increases, so prices have not risen and the tax increase has not produced public health benefits.

Updated: August 2013