>> China is finding it hard to kick its cigarette habit. For the past couple of years Beijing has been working on a new law to crack down on public smoking. But now sources say the tobacco industry has been throwing its weight around, pressing the government to relax the rules.
And as Reuters Megha Rajagopalan reports, that seems to be working.>> There is a version of this law that came out in late 2014 that was much stronger in its line against cigarettes. The latest version of the draft has made quite a few changes according to people who have seen the draft.
Most notable among those are that it would allow work places and other public places including malls, cafe, as restaurants to set up enclaves for smokers like smoking rooms.>> China has a big reason to listen to the industry The China National Tobacco Corporation is the world's largest cigarette maker by far, and brings in up to 10% of the country's total tax revenue.
It's also state run, which means it's got the ear of lawmakers.>> Because the tobacco monopoly is government controlled, and because they do have a tremendous influence over the government. They don't need to make any kind of public lobbying effort. They can just do this kind of lobbying behind closed doors.
That's left public health groups frustrated because they have no recourse to sway public opinion to their point of view.>> Groups like the World Health Organization have been warning China about the heavy costs of the habit.>> Including a massive healthcare burden for the government. China is the world's largest consumer of cigarettes, with 300 million smokers, and there are around a million smoking-related deaths every year.
The new law is expected to be passed by the end of the year.