March 9, 2006
Your recent cover story “Tobacco dilemma” in Beijing Review should never be a dilemma at all. The road ahead is that the Chinese government should come down very hard on cigarettes smoking. It does not make sense to let tobacco smoking to proliferate because it enriches government coffer through hefty penalty taxes. Tobacco smoking is an insidious nicotine addiction, over a long period of time, causing serious health problems, like lung cancers and other forms of cancer, emphysema, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases. Unlike hard drugs addiction which produces immediate behavioral aberrations which require immediate treatment and rehabilitation. As a result of cigarette smoking’s insidious nature, it reduces both its victims’ production capacity and productive life. The tax take can hardly offset the massive burden on health expenses both on the part of its victims and on the government and not mentioning the years of suffering and deprivations of its victims. The multinational tobacco companies can take their profits and run leaving the Chinese government to face the music the mess they created. Another frightening specter is that more young women are picking up cigarette smoking, especially pregnant mother whose developing fetus will be badly affected, and nursing mother, through inhalation of secondary tobacco smokes(passive smoking), the babies can become addicted to cigarettes smokes. This is a case of addiction from cradle to grave not of their making. Two past China’s great leaders lived to ripe old age in spite of being heavy smokers most of their lives. This opens to the question that how much longer they would have lived if they had not been smoking all their lives. After all the theoretical life span of human is 130 years. Lord Palmerston traded opium to China would not done so much harm than the present craze of tobacco consumption in China.