Tobacco Product Regulation and Tobacco Industry Interference
China’s Tobacco Monopoly Law grants the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration (STMA)/China National Tobacco Corporation (CNTC) power to devise and enact any and all regulations related to tobacco products. Rather than strengthening regulations on the contents of tobacco products, STMA/CNTC has instead launched the “low tar, low harm” campaign, despite the mountain of scientific evidence debunking the claim. As its profits swelled, STMA’s chief scientist was rewarded with a prestigious academic title, causing strong public outcry. STMA/CNTC’s other efforts in countering tobacco control measures include its forcing the partial adoption of the Guidelines on Articles 9 and 10 of FCTC, thwarting attempts to regulate its use of additives such as Chinese herbal medicines designed to enhance the attractiveness and palatability of tobacco products. STMA/CNTC does not disclose to the public the contents and emissions of its tobacco products that are harmful to health, and its aggressive campaign of misinformation has caused widespread misperception among the public. Aside from traditional tobacco products, STMA has also been eying for novel products such as e-cigarettes, which are mass-produced in China but remain to be regulated. STMA has done little towards tobacco control and spent more energy maximizing the tobacco industry’s profits. In compliance with FCTC Article 5.3, other relevant government agencies, instead of STMA, should be given the authority to regulate tobacco products in China. The international tobacco control community should also be vigilant against interference from the Chinese tobacco industry.