About one in 3 cigarettes worldwide are smoked in China. According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey in China, almost one third of the adult population smokes, with 53% of all men. The number of Chinese smoking grew by 100 million between 1980 and 2012. Whilst health may be the number one concern for the Chinese consumers, there remains a large portion of the population who choose to smoke.

Chinas various cigarette brands


With a pack of cigarettes costing less than ¥10 ($1.63) in China, significantly lower than the $6 American consumers pay, the price isn’t exactly prohibitory. Although taxes are low relative to most developed economies, smoking tax still contributes $140.5 billion to Government coffers. Nevertheless, this tax is insignificant to the health and social benefits smoking causes in China.

Chinese smoking in front of non-smoking-sign


This army of smokers exposes around 740 million people to the poisonous fumes as passive smokers. A study issued by the WHO this year shows that 3,000 people die in China every day because of tobacco use, which translates into one person dying approximately every 30 seconds. Even though China signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2003, only few measures have been put in effect to date.

However, a new regulation draft released on 24 November draws public attention and legislation to the matter. China plans to ban smoking in public spaces like kindergartens, schools, hospitals, fitness centers and waiting areas of public transportation hubs. Based on the success in other countries, the draft also includes highlighting health risks on cigarette packs which could have a significant impact in decreasing the numbers as the majority of the 300 million smokers are unaware of the link between smoking and strokes, heart disease and lung illness. It is hoped this will help to discourage many more Chinese from picking up the habit, especially the younger generation. Among 14 year olds, 11% of boys and 3% of girls smoke.

little Chinese boy smoking a cigarette 

To change consumer perception, China plans to forbid tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion. This includes prohibiting smoking scenes in films and TV shows. Whilst previous smoking legislation has been poorly implemented, the new smoking legislation aims to place top government officials and social organizations in charge of realizing the regulations in their areas. Public leaders should take the lead, which means that teachers and medical workers will be prevented from smoking in front of students and patients.

Smoking in TV Shows Banned


Every little bit helps, but given the heavy pollution in China – for the first 30 days of January 2013, the air in Beijing was 17% worse than an average US smoking lounge –there is still some work to be done before the average Chinese consumer will have clean lungs.  

Update: Pollution kills more people than tobacco in 12 of China’s 31 cities surveyed by Greenpeace.  

China Skinny is pleased to announce a partnership with British research and strategy agency CrowdDNA.

The strategic partnership will see the agencies share insights, methodologies and resources to ensure their clients continue to receive cutting edge, cost effective research across China and Europe.

“The partnership with Crowd DNA is a natural fit for China Skinny given our similar values and approach to innovation,” says China Skinny founder Mark Tanner. “China is changing on a scale never seen before and we constantly need to evolve to keep up. The sharing of methodologies and other synergies will ensure that our clients will continue to understand their target markets in China better than anyone.”

China’s transition from an investment-led economy to a consumption-based economy, coupled with the soaring growth of the middle and upper classes has seen China become the most sought-after prize for European businesses expanding globally. China Skinny’s leadership in Chinese consumer research and intelligence will enable CrowdDNA to provide its clients such as Red Bull, IPC Media, Peroni, Channel 4 and Sony Music, compelling insights into China’s complex consumers.

Crowd DNA founder Andy Crysell comments: “We’re impressed with how China Skinny communicate their message and the impact of their work. Overseas research is accounting for close to 50% of our revenue now and, inevitably, China is an area of focus. The partnership with China Skinny bolsters our credibility and integrity in what is a particularly complex market.”

As increasingly confident and resourced Chinese brands look to expand beyond Mainland China, China Skinny is well placed to assist them in understanding the intricacies of the European market through its partnership with CrowdDNA.