Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

smoking in china Jiwei Han/ZumaPress

Smokeless China

Despite some efforts to reduce smoking, China has avoided outright prohibition, owing largely to the huge amount of revenue generated by the tobacco industry. Are electronic cigarettes the answer?

BEIJING – In a few weeks, Beijing will implement a city-wide ban on smoking in all indoor public spaces, such as restaurants and offices, as well as on tobacco advertising outdoors, on public transportation, and in most forms of media. If the initiative, agreed late last year by the municipal people’s congress, is successful, China may impose a similar ban nationwide.

A significant decline in smoking would undoubtedly bring enormous public-health benefits to China. But is it feasible?

With an estimated 300 million smokers, China represents one-third of the world’s total and accounts for an average of roughly 2,700 tobacco-related deaths per day. The costs of treating smoking-related diseases, not to mention the associated productivity losses, are considerable.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.


Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.;
  1. solana114_FADEL SENNAAFP via Getty Images_libyaprotestflag Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images

    Relieving Libya’s Agony

    Javier Solana

    The credibility of all external actors in the Libyan conflict is now at stake. The main domestic players will lower their maximalist pretensions only when their foreign supporters do the same, ending hypocrisy once and for all and making a sincere effort to find room for consensus.


Edit Newsletter Preferences