Tobacco giveth, tobacco taketh away.
According to a recent Xinhua report, more than 45 percent of the Yunnan provincial government's tax receipts come from tobacco. On the other side of the coin, four of the top five causes of death in the province are caused by or aggravated by smoking cigarettes.
With the May 31 World No-Tobacco Day approaching, Yunnan's Health Bureau held its first-ever meeting about tobacco and its effects on public health.
According to a recent investigation into the top causes of death in Yunnan, researchers determined that the top killer among the province's 46 million residents is respiratory disease, followed by "injury and poisoning", cancer, cerebrovascular diseases such as strokes, and heart disease. All but injury and poisoning have proven connections to regular smoking.
Despite the obvious negative impact smoking is having on public health, reducing tobacco consumption in Yunnan is a sensitive issue.
Yunnan is China's largest tobacco-producing region. The largest cigarette production facility in Asia is located in Yuxi, 85 kilometers south of Kunming.
The Hongta cigarette factory in Yuxi produces 90 billion cigarettes annually - enough to supply more than 12 million pack-a-day smokers for a year.
The residents of some of Yunnan's largest cities including Yuxi, Qujing and Chuxiong have benefited from the taxes paid and public projects funded by the province's larger tobacco producers. Hongta and rival Hongyun Honghe Tobacco Group – the world's fouth-largest cigarette producer – have consistently ranked among Yunnan's top companies. These factors and others have made it difficult for the government to address smoking as a public health problem.
China has more than 300 million smokers and millions more who are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke, be it at home, in the workplace or at restaurants and bars. Yunnan itself is home to just under 12 million smokers, with an additional 9.5 million suffering from passive smoking. According to Yunnan Provincial Health Bureau statistics, 20 percent of civil servants, teachers and doctors in the province are smokers.
China recently launched a nationwide ban on smoking in public places that has generally gone unnoticed throughout Yunnan, as well as the rest of the country. Government-run English-language news site InKunming summarizes the state of the public smoking ban in Kunming:
"Generally speaking, most of the in-door smokers can be seen in internet cafés, electronic game bars, and night clubs etc., while there are comparatively less smokers in western restaurants, cinemas, bookstores, tea houses etc. The indoor smoking ban still remains grim in Kunming."© Copyright 2005-2021 GoKunming.com all rights reserved. This material may not be republished, rewritten or redistributed without permission.