The main training institution of China’s Communist Party proposed legislative changes to tighten tobacco controls and curb the state cigarette monopoly’s regulatory powers, signaling increasing political will to rein in an industry generating more than $95 billion in tax revenue.
The Communist Party’s Central Party School, headed until January by President Xi Jinping, detailed its tobacco-control recommendations in a 200-page document. It includes a proposal to remove the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration’s membership of a government group implementing tobacco control measures.
The document also suggests that the State Council establish a national tobacco control office or designate a specific health department to “take charge, supervising the control of tobacco in all processes from production to sales.” Such a step would overcome a dilemma created by the fact that the regulator and China National Tobacco Corp., the world’s largest and most profitable cigarette maker, are essentially the same organization.
“This is unprecedented,” said Judith Mackay, a Hong Kong-based senior adviser to the World Lung Foundation, who received a copy of the document yesterday. “Work on the book started two years ago, when Xi Jinping was still in charge of the party school.”
While the proposals don’t represent government policy, Mackay said at a briefing in Beijing today that she was led to believe by an official at the school that such recommendations tend to be officially adopted. The document, which Mackay assisted with, was written by Chen Baosheng, Lu Zhongyi, Zhang Zhongjun and six other authors.
China’s legislature has been conducting research this year on a proposed national law to ban smoking in public places, an official at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control said.
“Optimistically, I expect that we can have a national smoke-free law in China within a year,” Yang Jie, deputy director of the CDC’s Office of Tobacco Control, said at the same briefing.
China should also legislate to include photographic warnings on cigarette packages similar to those in Hong Kong, and also ban the tobacco industry from conducting promotional activities such as sports and cultural activities, the central party school’s document said.
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