The Dragon Smokes

Posted on August 13, 2012

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It’s difficult on days like these to work out whether the fugg that has enveloped the whole of Beijing is due to pollution or simply the amount of cigarettes that nearly 1.4 billion people are able to get through in a day.

And, believe me, some really do spend all day trying to get through their quota.  Taxi drivers have got it down to a fine art (not when passengers are present, thankfully), doorways are much beloved of the casual Chinese smoker but the real home of smoking would appear to be the public and office toilets where you’ll almost always find a few chaps having a smoke, usually whilst also having a conversation on their mobile.  Not necessarily using the loo itself mind.  Odd, I find.

Nonetheless, no moment should be wasted to get as much of that strength giving tobacco and nicotine into the lungs, eh?  After all, the Chinese smoke 38% of the cigarettes consumed globally and that’s not going to happen without serious effort, even for a country with 20% of the population.

Of course, that also leads to large numbers of deaths and diseases.  Just over a million people die here each year from smoking-related diseases.  But even at just CNY 15* per pack 9% of government revenues comes from the industry – so it’s unlikely to want to reverse those figures.

Indeed, it often feels like it’s illegal not to smoke.

22 year old Chinese lad, having a smoke.

The only other place I can think of that comes close to this is the tobacco heartlands of the Southern USA.  There too, folk have a healthy appetite for cigarettes, hard liquor and spitting.  Maybe this is the trick Europe’s been missing?

Trade, education, military spending?  Nope.  Smoking and spitting are the prerequisites for becoming a global superpower…

*and that’s for the “expensive”, imported Canadian ones – the revenues of the state-monopoly cigarette firms combined are actually less than that of Philip Morris, whilst the counterfeit business is estimated to produce some 400 billion a year.
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Posted in: China, Economy, Health