An interesting fact, taken from Harpers Magazine: The state monopoly on cigarettes in China provides 10 percent of government revenue; annual sales amount to 1.8 trillion cigarettes, or approximately one third of the total sold worldwide.
China is a society that still retains a preference for male children, so it maintains a male-dominated culture. And the state actually markets cigarettes extensively, touting the supposed benefits of smoking.
Those are two social elements -- equality of the sexes, and the health risks of smoking -- where American government has made significant changes in the past generation. Federal, state and local legislation has created a foundation for gender equity (even if income inequality is still part of the economic structure). Largescale health studies have demonstrated the health costs of smoking, which has led to more stringent restrictions on distribution and sale of cigarettes and warnings on the products themselves (even if government still is addicted to the taxes generated by these products).
Women, cigarettes, and taxes. We are a far way from the cigarette lady on 1930s movie screens who pranced among men at their barstools, hawking cigars, cigarettes, tiparillos. At least, we seem to be in this country.