• The article explains the history of the tobacco industry in China, and how it became a major force with the help of foreign companies.
• It looks at how tobacco control policies have evolved over time, and how they are currently inadequate to protect public health.
• It examines the need for stronger regulation to combat smoking-related diseases in China, which has become the world’s largest consumer and producer of tobacco products.


This article examines the history and development of the Chinese tobacco industry, its current state, and what needs to be done to ensure public health is protected from its impact.

History of Tobacco in China

Tobacco was first introduced to China during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) but did not become popular until after 1949 when it was promoted as part of an effort to boost rural economies. In 1952, foreign companies began investing heavily in the Chinese market, helping expand production capacity and make tobacco a major force in Chinese society.

Evolution of Tobacco Control Policies

Over time, various regulations were implemented by both central governments and local authorities to restrict smoking in certain areas or impose taxes on cigarettes. Despite these efforts, there has been limited progress towards reducing tobacco consumption because many people still view smoking as socially acceptable or necessary for business negotiations. Furthermore, enforcement is weak due to lack of resources or political will at both national and local levels.

Current Situation

China is now both the world’s largest consumer and producer of tobacco products, accounting for more than one-third of global cigarette production. This has led to higher rates of smoking-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and respiratory illnesses among its population – particularly among men who make up 80% of smokers in China.


There is an urgent need for stronger regulation if China is going to effectively combat smoking-related diseases within its population. This should include increased taxation on cigarettes; restrictions on advertising; limits on where people can smoke; as well as education campaigns that focus on raising awareness about the risks associated with smoking.