Beyond Just Cigarettes: China Tobacco, by the Numbers

Industry Insight by Sophia L
Beyond Just Cigarettes: China Tobacco, by the Numbers
China Tobacco, the world's leading cigarette producer, holds a remarkable 96% of China's cigarette market.

China Tobacco, the world's largest cigarette company and a behemoth under China's state ownership, not only dominates the nation's cigarette market but also wields significant influence within its government, helping setting both tobacco regulations and health policies related to smoking. The statistics about the company offer a gripping narrative:


Dominance in the Market: China Tobacco commands a staggering 96% of the nation's cigarette market as of 2022. [Source: Euromonitor International]


Staggering Sales: In 2022 alone, the company sold approximately 2.46 trillion cigarettes – a figure that's about equal to the combined total of the next 67 countries. [Source: Euromonitor International]


Lucrative Revenues: Profits and tax payments by China Tobacco brought in a massive $213 billion revenue to China's central government in 2022, almost equaling the nation's defense budget at $214 billion. [Source: Xinhua, state-owned news agency]


Comparative Production: While global tobacco giants like Philip Morris International saw a decline of 27% in cigarette production from 2007 to 2022, China Tobacco observed a 14% increase during the same period. [Sources: Philip Morris International, National Bureau of Statistics of China, Xinhua, state-owned news agency]


Affordable Prices: One can buy a pack of China Tobacco's most economical cigarette brand for just $0.43. [Source: WHO]


Public Health Concern: China is home to an estimated 300 million smokers, and had China reduced its tobacco consumption rate at the same global pace from 2005 to 2020, about 80 million fewer people would be using tobacco today. [Sources: WHO, World Bank]


Government Influence: In the committee that devises tobacco control policies, only one seat is reserved for China's public health agencies, in contrast to two seats held by China Tobacco and its overseeing ministry. Moreover, four executives from China Tobacco were part of China's official delegation in a 2021 meeting discussing a key global tobacco control treaty. [Sources: Southeast Asian Tobacco Control Alliance; Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control]


Translation Tactics: In the official Chinese rendition of the global tobacco control treaty, the word "shall" was, at least 68 times, changed to "should", a subtle tweak that, as noted by China Tobacco executives, "produces a strikingly different effect." [Source: Research on Counterproposals to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control]

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