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Anti-smoking laws shift worldwide sales trends

Reporter: Elaine Reyes 丨 CCTV.com

12-06-2016 17:33 BJT

A recent study suggests that every year, nearly six trillion cigarettes go up in smoke around the world. It's an incredible number, translating into a big and lucrative business for tobacco makers. But as new cigarette laws come into effect around the world, are they having any impact on smokers? 

"In many parts of the world, including India, tobacco use is a part of socio-cultural fabric and its use in certain forms is considered normal in the society," said Indian Health Minister JP Nadda .

People around the world are smoking about as many cigarettes as ever nearly 6 trillion per year.

But, sales trends are shifting.

Research shows low- to middle-income countries smoking more.

While high-income countries are smoking less, a trend linked to tougher smoking restrictions and anti-smoking campaigns.

From Australia's "plain packaging" laws to the second largest drugstore chain in the United States, pulling cigarettes from its shelves.

 "It is the only legal product known to mankind that kills up to half of its consumers when used as recommended by manufacturers," said Dr. Douglas Bettcher, director of Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases, WHO.

Now, developing countries are implementing their own restrictions.

Among them: Chile.

Nearly a decade ago, it banned smoking in public places and recently moved to tone down packaging and ban popular menthol-flavored cigarettes.

Tobacco farms there are small and mostly family-run.

Farmers are concerned a tobacco crackdown would hurt them.

"They are practically killing small scale farming with this law. Because there is nothing around here that we can do to replace what we earn with this company. It would mean giving up crop farming and hoping to earn a minimum salary with a big agricultural company," said tobacco producer Jose Miguel Urzua.

China wants to cut smoking rates, too.

Each year, it smokes nearly half of the world's cigarettes.

That's double the number of the next four countries combined.

And that's true despite capital Beijing's efforts to set an example - with a tough anti-smoking law, enacted a year and a half ago.

It outlaws smoking in public places like offices, restaurants, hotels and hospitals.

Those who violate the ban are fined.

A similar nationwide ban is in the works.

For now, volunteers in Beijing, wearing blue vests, are out to educate the public.

"Right now the point of the policy is first to make people aware, Chinese smokers have been used to it for decades. It's unrealistic to expect people to accept the law within 3 years. We feel that for the first few years raising awareness is very important, it'll come slowly," said volunteer Liu Li.

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