The more things change

An article by Teh-Wei Hu on the politics of smoking in China. This is a subject I have some interest in, and I was not surprised to see that very little has changed in the politics of smoking in China. The Chinese government wishes the people would smoke less, for reasons of public health. (I also wish Chinese people would smoke less, for reasons of personal health.) One way to get them to smoke less is to raise taxes on smoking, which will both reduce use and raise money. This used to be called  寓禁於征Suppression through taxation.

As in the past there are different parts of the government with different views on this. In particular we get some parts of the state pointing out the damage this will do to the peasants who raise the crop, who are of course just honest sons of the soil trying to make a living. We even get a repeat of the questionable claim that peasants are forced to grow this crop by local governments.
There are some changes, of course. Now they are smoking tobacco instead of opium, and the worry about provincial  governments challenging the center due to the financial independence provided by drug  sales is not there. Still, if history is not repeating itself it is at least rhyming.

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