Director of the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration Ling Chengxing took aim at proposed curbs on smoking in public indoor areas, saying controls on tobacco should not take an “absolutist” or “expansionist” direction, Reuters reported, citing an interview with the party paper Study Times. With more than 300 million smokers, China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of tobacco. Last year taxes on the industry contributed an estimated 7-10% of government revenues. “We must note that smoking has hundreds of years of history and objectively a market demand for cigarettes still exists,” Ling said in reference to a habit which the World Health Organization says accounts for as many as a million deaths a year.
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