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 Places: 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 Ministry of Health Implementation Rules on the Regulations on Public Places Sanitation Administration prohibit smoking in the 28 indoor public places listed in the State Council Regulations. These places include restaurants, bars, and pubs. In addition, the Ministry of Health has issued a decision requiring all medical facilities to be smoke free. It is our understanding that the Ministry of Health is implementing and enforcing this decision. Smoking rooms or areas are permitted in some forms of long-distance transport. Sub-national jurisdictions have the authority to implement local smoke free policies.

Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship: A national law bans tobacco advertising on film, 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.

Tobacco Packaging and Labeling: Warning labels are text-only, use small six point type, feature the same background color as the rest of the pack, and do not spell out specific health harms of smoking. They cover 30 percent of the pack, in Chinese on the front and English on the back. Tobacco companies are allowed to design their own labels as long as they meet the minimum requirements set by the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration. Misleading terms (e.g., "light", "low") are prohibited on packaging and labeling, but misleading figurative or other signs (e.g., colors, numbers) are not prohibited. It is uncertain whether warning labels are required to appear on smokeless tobacco products.

Tobacco Taxation and Prices: The World Health Organization recommends raising tobacco excise taxes so that they account for at least 70 percent of retail prices. Tobacco excise taxes in China are well below these recommendations.

Updated: April 2014