Amid the fog of data about the slowdown in China’s industrial growth is a silver lining: people are smoking less.
Some of the decline is due to a crackdown on the habit, Bloomberg reports.
The government more than doubled the consumption tax on cigarettes in May last year, while the capital city, Beijing, banned smoking in all indoor public spaces and some outdoor areas in June.
Taxes paid by tobacco manufacturers are also steadily increasing.
Meanwhile, the national anti-corruption campaign has curbed the old practice of giving cigarettes as gifts to officials.
Tobacco prices rose 6.3 percent in February from a year ago, while consumer prices overall increased 2.3 percent.
The result: value-added from the tobacco sector slumped 15.6 percent from a year earlier in January and February combined, cutting 0.7 percentage point from overall industrial output.
The volume of cigarettes sold last year dropped 2.4 percent and production declined 0.9 percent, figures from the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, which runs the China National Tobacco Corp., producer of 97 percent of China’s cigarettes, show.
If mainland Chinese really are smoking less, that could be bad news for the tobacco industry, which employs about 510,000 nationwide.
For the country as a whole though, it may mean saving billions of dollars in health costs.
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