Monday, May 4

Being Taxed To Death

One province in China is forcing their population to buy more cigarettes --- or else. If purchase quotas aren't met, fines equal to one month's pay will be levied, according to

"The edict, issued by officials in Hubei province in central China, threatens to fine officials who "fail to meet their targets" or are caught smoking rival brands manufactured in neighbouring provinces.

"Even local schools have been issued with a smoking quota for teachers, while one village was ordered to purchase 400 cartons of cigarettes a year for its officials, according to the local government's website."

Up to 10% of China's tax revenue is from cigarette sales. With the economy dropping, boosting cigarette sales will add to the government coffers.

The World Health Organization provides the following 2002 statistics:

* About 67% of men smoke, and 4% of women.
* Among youths, about a third of male teens smoke and nearly 8% of females.
* One of every three cigarettes consumed worldwide is smoked in China.
* Smoking will kill about a third of all young Chinese men alive (under 30 years).
* About 3,000 people die every day in China due to smoking.
* There are more than 300 million Chinese smokers - more than the entire US population. They consume an estimated 1.7 trillion cigarettes per year - or 3 million cigarettes every minute.
* China is the world's largest tobacco producer, accounting for about a quarter of the global tobacco leaf production.
* China used to be closed to tobacco multinationals. But in the last two decades, with the opening up of the Chinese economy, multinationals have been aggressively fighting for a piece of the Chinese market, seen as a "prize" market.
* In 1990, 68% of male physicians were smokers and 65% of teachers.
* Smoking contributes to four of the five leading causes of death in China today.
* In 1993, WHO estimated that while China gained $5 billion in tobacco taxes, the country lost $7.8 billion in productivity and additional health care costs.
* A study in Minhang district found smokers spent an average of 60% of their personal income and 17% of household income on cigarettes.
* In Hong Kong, tobacco companies spent an estimated $63 million on all forms or advertising and promotion in 1995.

ATTENTION: Be careful that you don't get trampled as thousands of American trial lawyers catch flights for this lawsuit haven on the other side of the world.