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Chinese consume more tobacco amid economic slowdown


08:54, July 19, 2012

BEIJING, July 18 (Xinhua) -- Chinese smoked more cigarettes in the first half of this year, helping the tobacco industry's profits to climb rapidly despite the current economic slowdown, according to data from the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration (STMA) on Wednesday.

China's tobacco sales in the first six months rose 2.81 percent from a year ago to 1.31 trillion cigarettes, while output topped 1.3 trillion cigarettes, making China the world's largest tobacco producer and consumer, according to the STMA.

The cigarette consumption figure in the first half was equal to about five cigarettes smoked by every Chinese each day.

In the first half of this year, the tobacco industry remained one of the most profitable sectors in China, with a combined profit of 152.04 billion yuan (24.08 billion U.S. dollars).

Meanwhile, the tobacco industry turned in 480.72 billion yuan in tax revenues over the first six months, up 17.65 percent from a year ago, according to STMA.

In the period, China's tobacco exports increased 9.2 percent year-on-year to 527 million U.S. dollars, while imports reached 1.25 billion U.S. dollars.

China has more than 300 million smokers and another 740 million people exposed to second-hand smoke, according to a report released by the Ministry of Health earlier in May.

About 1 million Chinese die from tobacco-related heart attacks, strokes, cancer, lung ailments and other diseases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Also on Wednesday, the WHO awarded Chen Zhu, Chinese Minister of Health, with a Director-General's Special Recognition Certificate for his commitment to tobacco control in China.

China has signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and ratified it in 2005. Over the past several years, the country has made considerable efforts in tobacco control such as a drive to achieve smoke-free hospitals and smoke-free cities.


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