ITC China Project Report Waves 1 to 5 (2006-2015) October 2017

This report evaluates China’s progress in the implementation of the FCTC and its guidelines. Between 2006 and 2015, five waves of the ITC China Survey were conducted among a cohort of adult smokers and non-smokers in China (approximately 800 smokers and 200 non-smokers in each survey location at each wave). The ITC China Survey was developed by an international research team from Canada (University of Waterloo) and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC). The Wave 1 to 3 ITC China Project Report was released in December 2012. This new Wave 1 to 5 Report assesses China’s progress in tobacco control up to 6 years later and 10 years after China ratified the FCTC, and compares China’s progress against other ITC countries around the world.

Key Findings

  1. Although smoking in public places has decreased in recent years, the majority of adults and children are still not fully protected from the harms of SHS.
  2. While awareness of the harms of smoking has increased among Chinese smokers over the past decade, there is room for improvement, especially in rural areas. This improvement in awareness could be achieved through pictorial health warnings and more education campaigns.
  3. Minor changes to China’s text-only warnings have had little impact in educating smokers about the harms of tobacco use and motivating them to quit.
  4. While China’s 2015 tobacco tax increase clearly shows that the government is ready to implement effective measures to curb smoking, additional tax policy reforms and price increases are still needed to make cigarettes less affordable for consumers.
  5. Increasing numbers of Chinese smokers are quitting, but there remain challenges.
  6. In China, both non-smokers AND smokers support stronger tobacco control policies.
  7. It is important for tobacco control efforts, especially public education campaigns and cessation services, to reach out to China’s large rural population.

Recommendations for stronger tobacco control in China

  1. Building on Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen’s comprehensive smoke-free laws, adopt a comprehensive national smoke-free law accompanied by a strong, rigorous enforcement effort.
  2. Implement large pictorial health warnings covering at least 50% of the front and back of cigarette packages.
  3. Design and implement more public education campaigns to further raise awareness of the harms of tobacco use and motivate quitting.
  4. Implement regular tobacco tax increases which translate to price increases at the retail level in order to make cigarettes less affordable over time.