By Christian Shepherd
BEIJING (Reuters) – Earlier this year, the city of Hangzhou, home to internet giants Alibaba, was ready to join Beijing, Shanghai and one A handful of other urban areas prohibit smoking in public places as part of a long-term campaign against tobacco use in China
But like the country's large-scale anti-smoking campaign, the Hangzhou initiative lost momentum. Instead of blanket smoking bans in public indoor areas, the city revised its regulations to allow smoking in designated areas in train stations or bus terminals, as well as in bars or karaoke clubs.
Resisting the harsher rules, said a top National Tobacco Control Officer, led by China National Tobacco Corp., the state monopoly.
The company has reported rising sales in the past year, saying that anti-tobacco activists have helped stop previous successes in the national anti-smoking campaign
The official declined to be named on the grounds that he has no authorization to speak with the media.
"China has a serious problem when it comes to hindering the tobacco industry and interfering with the implementation of specific tobacco control articles." Yang Gonghuan, former director of tobacco control at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a recent launch event for her Book "Tobacco Control in China".
In the book, Yang describes details of what she calls China Tobacco's efforts to thwart control measures by interfering with policy-making, spreading "false science" about the safety of low-tar cigarettes, promoting a smoking culture and Criticizing Anti-Tobacco Supporters for Working with Foreign Organizations [1
In official statements, China Tobacco says it is trying to improve public health by meeting tobacco control obligations and reducing things like tar in cigarettes.
China tobacco is huge, powerful and opaque.
Under the Red Pagoda Mountain and Double Happiness brands, which sell 98 percent of cigarettes in China, the unlisted company is the largest cigarette maker in the world by volume, generating $ 1.1 trillion in revenue last year ($ 172 billion)
It accounts for about 7 to 11 percent of Chinese taxes.
In 2015, after China implemented measures Under the World Health Organization's Tobacco Control Convention, including a tax increase, health warnings on cigarette packs, advertising restrictions and public smoking bans, tobacco sales fell for the first time since 2000. This trend continued also in 2016.
Tobacco sales fell 8 percent in 2016 after smoking was banned in public places in July 2015, according to state media.
"When they saw the statistics, China Tobacco began to fight politics at any cost," said the tobacco control official
In 2017, China Tobacco sold 0.8 percent more cigarettes than the year before; In the first three months of 2018, sales rose 4.15 percent, according to official data.
China produces and consumes most of the tobacco in a country: over 300 million Chinese cigarettes, more than half of which are all adult males, Yang said.  Social acceptance of smoking in China, where cigarettes are often given as gifts at weddings or business meetings, with little awareness of the associated health risks, means that demand remains high despite one million tobacco uses. Related deaths every year, according to her book.
Cigarettes are also cheap, even as other goods have become more expensive.
The affordability of average-price brands, around 13 yuan a pack, and cheaper brands, like as little as 3 yuan, halved between 2001 and 2016, taking into account inflation and rising income levels, according to a Zheng study Rong at the University of International Business Law in Beijing.
Illegal Online sa As an article by Zheng Pinpin, a public health researcher at Fudan University in Shanghai, discusses cigarette distribution platforms, arcade games with cigarettes as prizes, and thin cigarettes aimed at female smokers has stoked in recent years.
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In March, the Chinese Parliament announced a reorganization of the body responsible for implementing the WHO measures, leading the National Health Commission and hoping that tobacco control advocates would abolish regulation
"One would like As in Thailand, see a process that builds a firewall between industry interests and their interests and policies, "said Gauden Galea, WHO representative in China, to Reuters.  Yet, advocates of tobacco use fear that the heavy reliance on tobacco tax revenues undermines the political will to curb smoking.
An increase in wholesale tax from 5 percent to 11 percent in 2015 is largely attributed to the 2.3 and 5.6 percent decline in cigarette sales volumes in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
But Hu Teh-wei, an expert on China's tobacco industry at the University of California, Berkeley, said the impact had now been dull and significant tax hikes were needed to seriously discourage smokers, a prospect, he said, was currently not tested in China.
(Report by Christian Shepherd, edited by Tony Munroe and Philip McClellan)