'For the first offence, a hundred strokes and bound in shackles for one week. For the second offence, a thousand strokes and bound in shackles for three weeks. For the third offence, removal of the head at the neck.' This was the punishment imposed for smoking tobacco, as well as opium, by the Taiping Tianguo, a rebel and evangelical movement that conquered the southern half of China in the mid-19th century. The Taiping officials faced the same dilemma as other rulers of China since the late 16th century - when tobacco arrived in the country from the Spanish colony of the Philippines, via Taiwan and Fujian - how to control smoking. In 1639, the last emperor of the Ming dynasty imposed the death penalty for anyone caught smoking and extended this to those found selling tobacco. But his good intentions came to nothing. A Ming army sent to quell rebels in the north found cigarettes calmed their nerves and gave them energy, so they got their leader to ignore the ban. Emperors in the late Qing dynasty found that they could not ban smoking at court, where it became the rage. So they faced reality and levied taxes on tobacco, making it an important part of national revenue. With the establishment of cigarette factories in Shanghai and Hong Kong in 1902 by foreign companies, the modern tobacco industry arrived in China. In 1934, a Chinese scholar named Lu Fuhua published one of the world's earliest studies on the link between smoking and cancer. His research on men in their 40s found that those who had smoked for more than 20 years were 10 times more likely to have lung cancer than non-smokers. Latest official forecasts say that, by 2030, the number of Chinese who will die of tobacco-related diseases will exceed three million a year. So the old dilemma continues. Officials know the risk that tobacco brings to their people, but can they afford to live without its revenue and can they implement effective measures to reduce consumption?