March 9th, 2012
06:44 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) - China’s state-owned cigarette monopoly, the China National Tobacco Corporation, may have a larger annual net profit than HSBC and Walmart, according to a report released this week by the Industrial Bank Co Ltd.

A rare glimpse into the tobacco-giant’s finances revealed a net income of 117.7 billion yuan (US$18.7 billion) in 2010 on sales of 770.4 billion yuan.

According to Bloomberg, HSBC reported $16.8 billion of profit for its most recent fiscal year while Wal-Mart reported a net income of $15.7 billion. The 2011 figures of China National Tobacco Corp. were not given.

Industrial Bank Co Ltd released the data because China National Tobacco Corp. is buying a 5.2 billion yuan stake in the Shanghai listed bank.

The state-owned tobacco company also passed the total profit of the world’s three biggest listed tobacco companies Philip Morris International Inc., British American Tobacco Plc and Altria Group in 2010.

According to a WHO report from 2010, China is home to about 350 million smokers, of which 57.4% are men and 2.6% are women. The report says that, as history shows, smoking is perceived as a sign of masculinity for Chinese men. Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping for instance were often depicted smoking cigarettes.

China ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on 11 October 2005 and issued a set of rules stating that smoking is banned in indoor public places in March 2011.

The Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health released guidelines to improve tobacco control in schools in June 2011, saying that all indoor and outdoor areas of kindergartens, primary and secondary schools should be smoke free.

In February 2011, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television issued a notification prohibiting to show tobacco brands or indirect tobacco advertisement on Television.

However, around one million people in China die every year as a result of tobacco use and Chinese health authorities and the government are often criticized for not putting enough effort into preventing tobacco use. Bloomberg reported that the Chinese government derived more than $95 billion tax revenue from the tobacco industry last year.

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soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Leo

    "According to a WHO report from 2010, China is home to about 350 million smokers, of which 57.4% are men and 2.6% are women. "

    Does anyone else see a problem with this sentence?

    March 9, 2012 at 7:33 am |
  2. SAL

    Suspect that 2.6% should have read 42.6% which will tally to 100%.

    March 9, 2012 at 7:50 am |
  3. Kevin

    I know there's a lot of ladyboys in Thailand. Maybe 150 million of them emigrated to China and are all serious smokers?

    March 9, 2012 at 7:50 am |
  4. Thanos Condylis

    They may have "issued" rules but nobody follows these.
    One can smoke anywhere including Hospitals!!!

    March 9, 2012 at 7:51 am |
  5. TZBOY

    So who are the other 40% of the smokers?

    March 9, 2012 at 7:55 am |
  6. Floyd Burgoz

    I am glad, and the World can not to a damn thing about the smoking preferences of China. Good for them.

    March 9, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  7. kcm367

    I think the 57.4% and 2.6% mean, that of the total population.

    March 9, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  8. csxltm

    the government can get a large amount of income from sales of tobacco

    March 9, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  9. Genius

    Dont you see, the rest 40% are transgender whitch is depicted on the phohto!

    March 9, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  10. Genius Nine

    Dont you see, the rest 40% are transgender whitch is depicted on the phohto!

    March 9, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  11. Keerview

    This wouldn't be the only thing wrong in the article. Obviously it has to be 42.6%, but the underlying question is, is the article meant instill outrage that some monopoly in China is making more money than Walmart? The article claims that 1 million people of the 350 million die every year from smoking in China. The CDC states 430 thousand people die in the US every year from smoking related illnesses while there are only 42.6 million smokers. So a smoker in China is less likely to die as compared to the US smoker by a long shot. How is that possible ? Great Western medicine, foods and drinks stuffed with carbs and HFCS and many hours of watching TV every day couldn't be the problem, I think....not sure. One could check on the Chinese and US heart attack rates to get a better idea of this, but calling smoking the culprit is redundant and oversimplified. Of course it is a bad habit, but the real problem is much bigger than Walmart.

    March 9, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  12. Bill

    The problem is size and no accountability in either case
    It's not really a question of Government or private
    Too big is the real question
    Decentralize governments and break up the monopolies would be a start

    March 9, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  13. linuxaomi

    It's more likely 97.4% male and 2.6% female. They even smoke in operation rooms in clinics. Teachers booze and smoke whenever there is a free meal. Look at the way they are driving cars. No rules. No laws. WHO cares.

    March 9, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  14. jon

    I was wondering what the other 40% were but I think Transgender must be the answer looking at that photo.. hahaha

    March 9, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  15. santa

    57.4%+2.6%=100%, my teachers have tought me the fomular when I studied in primary school, isnt it right? :)

    March 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  16. Pezman419

    Having been to China once, I can tell you more than 2.6% of women smoke, so I don't know what that means to this typo.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  17. _aleph_

    As Leo doesn't properly cite his so-called "WHO report from 2010," I take the post as a purposeful misrepresentation of the truth. If the report exists, give us a link, Leo.

    March 9, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  18. Tom

    The percentage should have been 97.4% men and 2.6% women,I would request CNN please to change it Immediately.

    March 9, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
  19. sameh

    Terrifying sight snake swallows girl

    March 10, 2012 at 2:34 am |
  20. Chinaren

    Aleph, Having lived in China for ten years, I can say that 2.6% sounds about right. A woman in China who smokes is, traditionally, considered a 'bad woman'. (ie: lady of ill repute).

    Men, on the other hand, are practically *required* to smoke. If you get engaged and visit the parents, you are supposed to take cigs with you. When a couple get married, all the wedding guests get sweets (candy) and packs of 'lucky' cigarettes. One of the standard 'small talk' options is to offer a person a smoke. It's horrible ingrained in the culture.

    The rule about not smoking indoors is very rarely obeyed, even in restaurants. A Chinese acquaintance took us out for dinner not too long ago and sat blissfully puffing away under not one, but two 'no smoking' signs.

    My blog about living in china:

    March 10, 2012 at 4:19 am |
  21. Marco Hsiao

    The US media have serious sick psychology; it has distorted the US strategy. Foreign news must emphasize negative, strange, unrest and scandal? The picture is very strange (actor in ancient history drama with tobacco?).

    March 10, 2012 at 5:48 am |
  22. Marco Hsiao

    The truth:
    1) Now we know Wal-Mart has good profit in Mainland China.
    2) Per person consuming on tobacco – China is not higher than the US.
    3) The US citizens consume most drugs on the earth.
    4) Half of world prisoners were US citizens in the US jails and is crowded.
    5) The debt of corrupt US Federal government has surpassed 15 trillion.

    March 10, 2012 at 5:55 am |
  23. Marco Hsiao

    Foolish topic (comparison), now Wal-Mart only has 400s stores in Mainland China!

    March 10, 2012 at 6:08 am |
  24. Robert

    'China is home to about 350 million smokers, of which 57.4% are men and 2.6% are women.'

    I know the Chinese government likes to manipulate figures, but that one's a little obvious !

    March 10, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  25. Larry

    Obviously the "57.4%+2.6%=100%" thing is the CNN editor's mistake, none of China's business, the editor omitted a "4".

    March 11, 2012 at 4:52 am |
  26. emad eldin ahmed

    Smoking stat: it is actually 57.4% men + 42.6% women.

    March 11, 2012 at 4:58 am |
  27. Me

    "According to a WHO report from 2010, China is home to about 350 million smokers, of which 57.4% are men and 2.6% are women. The report says that, as history shows, smoking is perceived as a sign of masculinity for Chinese men. Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping for instance were often depicted smoking cigarettes."
    -57.4% male
    -2.6% female
    40% of another gender, QED. Pray tell,, do they ever vet their stuff, or just yank it out f their... tobacco pouch?

    March 11, 2012 at 6:10 am |
  28. Pax

    ...or did they mean to say 57.4% of all Chinese males smoke and 2.6% of all Chinese females smoke? I find it hard to believe that nearly half the smokers in China are women, since I live here and that simply doesn't seem to be the case from day-to-day observation. Furthermore, the writer says "smoking is perceived as a sign of masculinity" which would seem to also contradict the "42.6% are woman" suggestion.

    Is it too hard for CNN to actually correct their article so that we know for sure?

    March 11, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  29. sebastjan

    good business for china TAX office

    March 11, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  30. Greg

    No-one questioned the percentage of children smoking. Young boys under the age of 16 smoking in China? I have worked in China and can state that there is a significant statistic of very young Chinese male smokers.
    A clear statistical breakdown of men, women children and cross genders is necessary to properly assess the "real" numbers.
    Smoking is ingrained in the male cultural ego in China but rather sad that children start the habit..

    March 11, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
  31. Omar Shafey

    The article incorrectly states the statistics. 57.4% of men smoke and 2.6% of women smoke. The total adds up to 350 million smokers in a country of 1 billion. The data can be found in the WHO MPOWER Report and The Tobacco Atlas.

    March 11, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
  32. F Robinson

    All old commie leaders were heavy smokers – Stalin, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Deng Xiaoping.

    March 12, 2012 at 12:13 am |
  33. jakson

    The most powerful and Meals Desserts 2012

    March 13, 2012 at 1:23 am |
  34. Thomas

    The richest sector in China is the China Government. They own or have a significant financial stake in virtually everything – energy, banking, transportation, tobacco, and on and on it goes. This article suggests they make about $19 billion in profits and $95 billion in taxes on tobacco alone. Not a bad deal – for the government.

    March 13, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  35. Will

    LOL holmes this is old! But exaltcy like you, I smoked like a freight train for 20 years, and started on e-cigs 16 days ago and have not touched an analog since. Fact is, I gots 4 packs in the shed in back untouched. I\'ll probably throw them out tomorrow or day after I really can NOT imagine ever smoking tobacco again!I\'m subscribing to your channel. I got an NJOY Pro and they come with Cartomizers now. A good vape! Vape Tha Planet Smoking SUCKS Thanks for the good video!AMD

    March 31, 2012 at 2:28 am |
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