Monday, January 06, 2014

"No smoking" diktat for Chinese babus; officials must not offer cigarettes to others, says circular

BUREAUCRATS in China got an unusual diktat from the top: stop smoking. China’s cabinet recently issued rules banning government officials from smoking in government buildings, hospitals, stadiums, schools, public transports etc., according to media reports quoting China's Central Television. It issued a circular saying that…
the government officials must not offer cigarettes to others while performing official duties. Commenting on the new push to stamp out smoking in the world’s largest tobacco consumer, China, a Wall Street Journal essay titled “China tells its bureaucrats to butt out” says how bureaucrats often hold their meetings over a smoke, and offer cigarettes to one another as gift. There are economic reasons too for keeping the smoking tradition alive all across the country. After all, the country’s largest tobacco companies happen to be state-owned thereby aiding in the government’s exchequer.
According to estimates, China is home to 30 crore smokers and 43% of the world’s tobacco production. And the use of tobacco has turned out to be the main reason for 12 lakh deaths in the country every year. The health expert say the number will go up in the coming years because of the use of aggressive marketing tools to popularize cigarettes. Also, cigarettes in China are very cheap compared to those in the developed nations, allowing young buyers accessing those easily.
Even in India, there are about 28 lakh tobacco users, according to estimates.  And tobacco could be the main reason for 15 lakh deaths in India in 2020. Here, ITC is the market leader in cigarettes. But many smokers in India use beedi, which is a thin Indian cigarette filled with tobacco flake and wrapped in a leaf called tendu. Beedies account for 48% of Indian tobacco consumption.

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