Annual deaths from tobacco-related illnesses could rise threefold in China over the next 20 years, according to a report issued Thursday by a group of 60 Chinese public-health experts, officials and economists, the Wall Street Journal said. China is the world’s largest tobacco consumer, with an estimated 300 million smokers. The report, called "Tobacco Control and China’s Future," said tobacco-related illnesses killed about 1.2 million people a year as of 2005, and that this could rise to 3.5 million a year by 2030. China is also the world’s largest tobacco producer, with the main producers all under state ownership. The health experts argue that this structure continues to restrict efforts to curb smoking, despite rising health and financial costs. The report was published ahead of a January 9 deadline to ban smoking in public indoor venues and workplaces as well as on public transport. Experts say China has failed to meet this deadline, with efforts coming too late and enforcement poor.